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WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the following remarks earlier today on the decades-long series of atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Ros-Lehtinen expressed her support for current legislation before the U.S. House of Representatives designed to assist in bringing Kony and the top leaders of the LRA to justice. Additionally, Ros-Lehtinen commended her constituents’ efforts to raise awareness of Kony and the LRA’s horrific acts against the innocent.

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“I would like to begin by commending all the citizens and young students in my Congressional District and indeed throughout the country who have worked to raise awareness about Joseph Kony and his brutal crimes. Joseph Kony is a mass murderer whose campaign of violence against innocent civilians spans decades. The predatory forces doing his bidding, is known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, and they have perpetrated some of the worse human rights abuses of our time.

“Under the direction of Kony, the LRA has murdered, raped, mutilated, and abducted tens of thousands of innocent people, many of whom are children. They target remote villages, butchering civilians and abducting women and children to serve as sex slaves and fighters. Kony’s bloody reach now extends to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and the newly formed Republic of South Sudan.

“One measure that we could accomplish would be for the UN peacekeeping missions in the region to more effectively coordinate their actions, share information related to Kony and the LRA, because this is a threat that crosses many international borders.

“I would like to thank Representative Ed Royce for introducing a new bill, H.R. 4077, which I proudly support. H.R. 4077 would authorize the Secretary of State to use the State Department’s “Rewards Program” to gain intelligence and strengthen the capacity of those who are actively engaged in fighting transnational organized crime,and also apply it to the search for Kony and LRA.

“This program has served as a valuable incentive for those with crucial information to come forward and help round up foreign nationals wanted for a range of brutal crimes and activities that threaten regional, global security and stability, and U.S. security interests. It will be an important tool in helping to bring Kony and his circle of thugs, the Lord’s Resistance Army, to justice.

“I would also like to thank Congressman Jim McGovern for introducing H. Res. 583, of which I am a proud cosponsor. Mr. McGovern’s resolution echoes current law and puts the House on record in strong support of U.S. efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army. It urges the President to work closely with Congress to address critical gaps in U.S. strategy and to enhance U.S. support for regional measures already there to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army.

“As we have seen over the past 25 years, Kony’s assault on innocent lives has no limits. Now is the time to help bring Joseph Kony and his fellow criminals to justice. As a nation, let us ensure we have done all that we can to end this ongoing tragedy and hold this evil man accountable for all of his crimes.

“I thank all the young people throughout my district who have communicated through Twitter and Facebook and different modes of social media to express their outrage over Kony’s evil deeds. But now, let’s take action, let’s pass these bills.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the following remarks earlier today on the latest series of crackdowns perpetrated by the Cuban regime against Cuban dissidents in Havana just days ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s March 26-28 visit to the island.

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“Mr. Speaker, in the last year, we have witnessed dramatic changes in the Middle East and North Africa. There was vast media coverage in detailing the brutality of oppressors like Assad in Syria.

“Yet, very little has been said about the escalation of violence against Cuba’s internal opposition, a peaceful group who are being attacked by the Castro tyrants and their agents of terror, [who] operate just 90 miles off U.S. shores. But there is an opportunity to correct this wrong, to join forces and shed light on the systematic abuses against freedom-loving Cubans, and to call on Pope Benedict XVI, as he prepares to visit the island gulag, to publicly support the aspirations of the enslaved Cuban people to exercise their God-given rights.

“The Cuban dictatorship has ramped up its use of short-term detentions in order to intimidate and silence the voices of these brave Cubans standing up against tyranny and oppression. The Castro regime has continued its assault on fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

“The Cuban people are reminded daily that no dissent is allowed as they live under constant threat and surveillance by Cuban State Security forces. Regime sympathizers and security forces have barred opposition leaders from leaving their homes and have violently attacked other peaceful pro-democracy protestors on the streets.

“Just 48 hours ago, the Castro regime detained about 70 members of the peaceful Ladies in White movement, including 18 women who were arrested in Havana on their way to mass. Berta Soler, an important leader of the Ladies in White, was detained during the crackdown.

“The Ladies in White [is] a peaceful group, founded by wives, mothers, and daughters of political prisoners who suffered in Castro’s gulags. These Ladies are advocates of freedom, and by silently marching through the streets they convey a powerful message of peace and a voice for all [of] the oppressed. The Ladies in White have expressed their interest in meeting with the Pope during his visit next week but have not been able to confirm that meeting.

“A few days ago, 13 members of Cuba’s opposition staged a peaceful sit-in at a Catholic Church in Havana to call attention to their request for Pope Benedict XVI to meet with pro-democracy advocates during his visit to the island. Reports indicate that Castro agents forcibly removed these human rights defenders from the Church, detained them, and subjected them to severe interrogation.

“It is my hope that Pope Benedict will meet with these brave dissidents and shine a light on the struggles of the Cuban people who are living under the rule of the oppressive Castro brothers. I urge the Catholic Church to express its support and solidarity with the internal peaceful opposition and hear the voices of the dissidents who are yearning for freedom.

“The passionate struggle of the internal opposition will not be deterred by the abuses that are occurring daily at the hands of the Castro regime. These recent crackdowns by the regime illustrate its fear, its paranoia, [and] its concern that the Cuban people are no longer afraid of the regime and are demanding a democratic change on the island.

“The citizens of Cuba are denied basic human rights by the Castro regime, including the freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and due process of law. These fundamental freedoms should not be reserved for the citizens of some countries, while denied to those in other nations.

“I urge free nations—responsible nations—to condemn the recent actions by the Castro brothers,
to speak out against the atrocities that are committed daily in Cuba, and to reaffirm unconditional support for the Cuban people who seek to break free from the shackles of the Castro tyranny.”

Washington, D.C.— The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing next week titled “The Fiscal Year 2013 Budget: A Review of U.S. Foreign Assistance Amidst Economic Uncertainty.” The Committee will receive testimony from Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), on USAID’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2013.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
10:00 a.m.

2172 Rayburn House Office Building


The Honorable Rajiv Shah
U.S. Agency for International Development

Hearings held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn H.O.B. are available via live video through the Committee’s website at HFAC website: TV and Radio outlets must register with the House Radio-TV Gallery on Monday, March 19, 2011 after 4pm. Please call 202-225-5214 to register. Print reporters may contact Email ANDREW LEE: to reserve a seat at the press table.

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