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Posts on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights

Washington, D.C. – At a rally earlier today, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called on the Obama Administration to confront the Chinese leadership on its terrible human rights record, including its oppression of Falun Gong practitioners.   Ros-Lehtinen delivered the following remarks at the rally:
Chairman Ros-Lehtinen speaks at Falun Gong rally


(Click here for video)

“As many of you know, I have addressed this peaceful gathering of Falun Gong activists for several years now, yet sadly, things appear to have worsened for our brothers and sisters in China.  The leaders in Beijing have continued their brutal post-Arab spring crackdown, fearing that it could be the Chinese people who could rise up next to confront their captors.  These Communist thugs have a particular interest in repressing Falun Gong practitioners who pursue of ‘truthfulness, compassion and tolerance,’ the antithesis of what China’s rulers stand for.

“The Six-Ten Office, established in 1999 to carry out the repression of Falun Gong, is eerily similar to the Gestapo and the KGB in its propaganda and ruthless methods.  Indeed, Falun Gong adherents have been systematically arrested, tortured, sent to forced-labor camps for ‘re-education,’ placed in mental institutions for brainwashing, and subjected to organ harvesting.  This abhorrent policy has resulted in over thirty-four hundred deaths, and to this day, hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong followers are held in labor camps.

“The peaceful men and women of Falun Gong are among the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the world. These murders, kidnappings and other egregious human rights abuses serve as a reminder of the lengths and depths the cruel old men in Beijing will go to in order to retain their bloody grip on power.  Authorities have imprisoned anyone willing to speak out to defend victims of these heinous acts, including human rights lawyer Mr. Gao, who remains incarcerated at a remote facility and unable to regularly contact his family.

“The cowards in Beijing are so scared of Falun Gong’s tranquil teachings that their internet censors have blocked Chinese citizens from searching for it or even discussing it in web chats or via email.  This loathsome persecution of Falun Gong must stop and it must stop now!  It is essential that the people of China continue their struggle for democracy and human rights.  It is essential that friends and supporters of democracy and human rights continue to show their solidarity and support, by speaking out against these abuses and by embracing such courageous figures of conscience as the Dalai Lama.

“China’s rise as a global power has made people hesitant to criticize the regime, fearing economic repercussions.   President Obama must do what is right and not be timid in the face of Chinese bullying and threats.  It is up to the United States, as a symbol of liberty, to confront the immoral Communist leadership in Beijing and speak out for the human rights of the Chinese people.

“This means urging the old men in Beijing to stop repressing Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans, Uyghurs, all other Chinese as well as North Korean refugees.  It means not allowing ownership of America’s debt to be synonymous with ownership of America’s values.  It is our responsibility to be that shining city on a hill, to be a beacon of freedom, liberty and hope for the entire world to see!

“America must stand with Falun Gong and all the repressed!  Beijing must release Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience, immediately.  Set China free!”

Africa, Global Health and Human Rights
Excerpts of Remarks by Chairman Chris Smith
July 10, 2012
Good afternoon.  Today’s hearing will examine U.S. policy and policy options for managing relations with Nigeria in light of concerns on terrorism and social and political unrest.  
The stability and commitment to justice and the rule of law of the Nigerian government is critical to regional, continental and global economic interests.  Nigeria is hugely important on many fronts.  Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of oil and its largest democracy, is one of the U.S. government’s key strategic partners on the continent.  It is Africa’s most populous country, with more than 155 million people, roughly half Muslim and half Christian, and its second-largest economy.  Nigeria supplies nearly three times the volume of imports to the United States as Angola, the second leading U.S. import supplier.  The United States receives nearly 20% of our petroleum exports from Nigeria.
Consequently, Nigeria’s stability is of critical interest for the U.S. economy and American policy interests in Africa.
Attacks by the Nigerian Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram on Christians, including attacks launched this past weekend, are unprovoked and unconscionable.  People of all faiths—and all people of goodwill— must demand immediate action against this terrorist organization.
According to Catholic News Agency/EWTN News:
“Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama is concerned over the seemingly endless violence against Christians that claimed at least 58 lives this past weekend and hundreds of others in recent weeks.  It is ‘our prayer that something definitive will be done to stop the situation that is inhuman,’ the Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria and Nigerian Bishops’ Conference president said.  In a July 9 interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Kaigama said that the violence against Christian villages around Jos ‘doesn’t seem to stop.’  Although he was recently awarded the Institute for International Research’s annual peace building award, the archbishop said he and his priests are discouraged by the silence of foreign governments surrounding the violence in Nigeria.  A peaceful resolution ‘canot be left to just one country,’ the archbishop said, urging a, ‘collective effort.’”
Boko Haram reportedly is in league with al-Qaeda in the Mahgreb and is involved at some level with Tuareg rebels in northern Mali, Islamists in Somalia and possibly even the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In addition to its well-publicized attacks on Christians in Nigeria, Boko Haram has been involved in murdering those they consider moderate Muslims or Muslims collaborating with the central government or the West, including several Muslim clerics, the leader of the All Nigeria People’s Party and the brother of the Shehu of Borno, a northern Muslim religious leader.  There are reports that some northern Nigerian leaders may be supporting Boko Haram in some way as leverage against a government they oppose.
U.S. policy toward Nigeria also must take into account ethnic, religious and political challenges the Nigerian government faces outside of the Boko Haram dynamic.  Furthermore, development deficits in Nigeria have had unequal impacts on various minority ethnic groups, such as in Nigeria’s Delta region.  This lack of attention to equitable development in Nigeria has led to violent uprisings that do not appear to be resolved in any part of the country, certainly not in the Niger Delta.
In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan is considered to be the personification of his name: a fortunate politician who has been in the right place at the right time to enable him to enjoy a meteoric rise in politics with no perceived political base or political distinction in his relatively brief career.  He was an obscure government employee before he entered politics in 1998, and a year later, he was elected Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State.  Except for his success in negotiations with his fellow Ijaws in the troubled delta region, he served without any special distinction until he  became the Governor of Bayelsa State, after his predecessor was impeached on corruption charges in 2005.
Outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo selected then-Governor Jonathan to be the People’s Democratic Party vice presidential candidate with Umaru Yar’Adua, a presidential candidate from the north, in the 2007 elections.  Yar’Adua was ill for much of his time in office, and Jonathan was called on to exercise presidential authority in November 2009 when Yar’Adua was unable to do so.  Nigerian power brokers accepted Jonathan as official Acting President in February 2010.  When Yar’Adua finally died in May 2010, these power brokers only accepted Jonathan to be sworn in as president because he was not considered a threat and likely wouldn’t run for reelection.
However, Jonathan surprised them by announcing in September 2010 that he had consulted widely throughout Nigeria and would run for president.  Jonathan won the presidential election convincingly, but his ruling People’s Democratic Party lost seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and PDP now holds four fewer governorships – down to 23 of 36.
In October 2010, the Jonathan Administration called for the fuel subsidy to be removed. The government’s decision was met with demonstrations and strikes by national unions. But while the unions agreed to end strikes and protests, the Joint Action Forum, a civil society affiliate of the unions, continued protests for a time throughout the country.  The government responded with what human rights groups charged was excessive force.  In northern Kano State, a student was shot to death in the course of breaking up a rally.
In addition to the resentment caused by government brutality in dealing with the largely youth-led fuel subsidy protests, high unemployment, resentment over perceived government corruption, and mismanagement and experience in organizing social protests may yet have a lasting impact on Nigerian politics and society.
The issues of excessive government force in the Niger Delta, northern Nigeria and other areas of the country over several past governments in Nigeria has fed resentment.  Combined with the northern political opposition, the increasing resistance by minorities and the civil society political revolt, the Jonathan Administration faces significant forces arrayed against it.  The questions our government must answer are: will this government withstand its opposition and what can we do to help Nigeria to remain Africa’s essential nation?

Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee
Excerpts of Remarks by Chairman Chris Smith
July 9, 2012
                China’s one child policy in effect since 1979 is state sponsored murder and constitutes massive crimes against humanity.  The Nuremberg Nazi war crimes tribunal properly construed forced abortion as a crime against humanity—nothing in human history compares to the magnitude of China’s 33 year assault on women and children.
Abortion is a weapon of mass destruction. Millions have been exterminated.
Today in China, rather than being given maternal care, pregnant women without birth allowed permits are hunted down and forcibly aborted. They are mocked, belittled and humiliated.
In recent days, the exploitation and forced abortion at seven months of Feng Jianmei has sparked global outrage -- and deep concern for her welfare and that of the women of China (In early July, the European Parliament “strongly condemned” China’s one child and forced abortion policy).  While Feng remains in a hospital—she calls it a prison—her husband, Deng, has been beaten. Feng’s gross mistreatment however is far too commonplace.
Feng Jianmei was forced to undergo an abortion on June 2nd, seven months into her pregnancy.  Media reports indicate that local officials in northwestern Shaanxi Province held Ms. Feng for three days, blindfolded, and coerced her to consent to the abortion.  Even with the supposed consent, it took five men to hold her down and administer the drug that induced the 48-hour labor.  The injection was given directly to the child’s head.
Ms. Feng’s husband, Deng, posted graphic photos of his wife and the dead baby online, embarrassing the government. Deng Jicai, Mr. Deng’s sister, said her brother and sister-in-law had refrained from speaking to media but decided to speak to German reporters who traveled to Shaanxi when the government did not produce investigation results as promised.
Ms. Deng reported to the media that the local government organized a backlash against the family members, calling them traitors and keeping them under surveillance, apparently angered over the family's contacts with journalists.  Local residents took a long bus ride to the hospital where Ms. Feng was recovering from the abortion and demonstrated with banners reading, “beat the traitors soundly and expel them from Zengjia township!”  Family members claim that the demonstration seemed to be a campaign organized and funded by the local authorities but made to look like a spontaneous public gesture.  Mr. Deng reportedly also was beaten and labeled a traitor for speaking out about the crime.
The China Daily reported that there was no legal basis for the fine of $6,300 for the second pregnancy that Ms. Feng refused to pay.  The local government also has admitted that Ms. Feng’s legal rights were violated.  Publicity surrounding the forced abortion prompted the firing of two local officials and warnings or demerits being issued against five others.
Mr. Deng escaped from the hospital where both he and his wife were being forcibly detained.  He traveled to Beijing and hired a lawyer to sue the local government.  Mr. Deng’s location is now unknown, but it is believed that he is in hiding.  Ms. Feng is still being held at the hospital.
The lawyer, Zhang Kai, said recently that he has sent a legal request on behalf of Feng’s husband, Deng Jiyuan, asking local police and prosecutors to investigate criminal infractions in the case.  Deng also is seeking unspecified compensation from the government, Zhang said.
The widespread circulation of the photos posted by Mr. Deng has prompted renewed debate in China and the world regarding the one-child policy, possibly including within the government itself.  Researchers with a center affiliated with China's State Council, the equivalent of China's cabinet, argued in an essay published in the China Economic Times newspaper on July 3, 2012, that China should adjust the one-child policy "as soon as possible" to head off a potential demographic crisis.
The Wall Street Journal on July 6th also reported that a group of prominent Chinese scholars issued an open letter on Thursday calling for a rethink of the country's one-child policy. The group argued that the policy in its current form is incompatible with China's increasing respect for human rights and need for sustainable economic development. The letter comes less than a month after Feng’s photo and story ignited public anger.
"The birth-approval system built on the idea of controlling population size as emphasized in the current 'Population and Family Planning Law' does not accord with provisions on the protection of human rights contained in the nation's constitution," the authors of Thursday's letter wrote, adding that a rewriting of the law was "imperative."
The list of signatories to Thursday's letter included several high-profile figures, including Beijing University sociologist Li Jianxin and Internet entrepreneur James Liang.  "This is a time during which people all over the world have realized there are problems with the [one-child] policy," Mr. Liang, the co-founder and chief executive of Chinese online travel site, told The Wall Street Journal.  Mr. Liang, who has spent the past five years pursuing a Ph.D. in economics at Stanford University and just published a book challenging the notion that China has too many people, said he has felt a recent opening up of discussion around the one-child policy.
Mr. Liang, who advocates a complete dismantling of the family-planning system rather than a two-child system put forward by others, said he initially became interested in the one-child policy when he came across research showing that innovation and entrepreneurship are dominated by young people. He said he feared a shrinking of the population of young people would hamper the country's efforts to evolve beyond being merely the world's factory.  "From an economic perspective, the one-child policy is irrational. From a human-rights perspective, it's even less rational," Mr. Liang said.
Today we will hear testimony from Guo Yangling, who like Feng, will tell us how she suffered a brutalizing late term forced abortion:
“Heading out to buy breakfast… I was stopped by an older woman in her 50s who asked me if I had a “birth permit.”  I said no… Then, two staff members from the Family Planning Commission came and asked me where I was from, where I lived and what my name was… I tried to walk away but they wouldn't let me go…‘Help, somebody!’ But no one came to help.  Then two vans arrived, their doors opened and people sitting inside… ‘Get in quickly.’  I refused and said, ‘I don't know who you are, why you are asking me to get into your vehicle and where you are taking me?’  They said, ‘You will know after you get in’…On the road, in an attempt to save my baby who would soon be arriving in this world, I reached my hand for the van door.  They grabbed me and held me down on the van floor, yanking my hair and trampling my limbs and body… I screamed again ‘murder,’ only to have a cloth used to wipe cars stuffed into my mouth… I got out, I was brought to the second floor of the building.  There, I saw a number of female victims sitting on the benches in the corridor, their eyes filled with tears of anxiety, terror and sadness…a woman dressed in white and wearing a surgical mask told me to get on the delivery bed immediately.  I refused, so they pinned me down on the bed by force.  After the person in white pressed my belly with her hands and felt the position of my baby's head, she stuck a big, long, fatal needle deep into my abdomen… By then, my unborn baby had already been murdered and I lost heart.”
This is the grim reality of the one child per couple policy.  As we have known for three decades, there are no single moms in China—except those who somehow evade the family planning cadres and conceal their pregnancy.  For over three decades, brothers and sisters have been illegal; a mother has absolutely no right to protect her unborn baby from state sponsored violence.
The price for failing to conform to the one child per couple policy is staggering. A Chinese woman who becomes pregnant without a permit will be put under mind-bending pressure to abort. She knows that “out-of-plan” illegal children are denied education, health-care, and marriage, and that fines for bearing a child without a birth permit can be 10 times the average annual income of two parents, and those families that can’t or won’t pay are jailed, or their homes smashed in, or their young child is killed. If the brave woman still refuses to submit, she may be held in a punishment cell, or, if she flees, her relatives may be held and, very often, beaten. Group punishments will be used to socially ostracize her--her colleagues and neighbors will be denied birth permits. If the woman is by some miracle still able to resist this pressure, she may be physically dragged to the operating table and forced to undergo an abortion.
Her trauma, like Feng and Guo, is incomprehensible. It is a trauma she shares, in some degree, with every woman in China, whose experience of intimacy and motherhood is colored by the atmosphere of fear. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports staggering 500 female suicides per day in China. China is the only country in the world where the female suicide rate is higher than the male, and according to the Beijing Psychological Crisis Study and Prevention Center, in China the suicide rate for females is three times higher than for males.
The result of this policy is a nightmarish “brave new world” with no precedent in human history, where women are psychologically wounded, girls fall victim to sex-selective abortion (in some provinces 140 boys are born for every 100 girls), and most children grow up without brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles or cousins.
Over the years I have chaired 37 congressional human rights hearings focused in whole or in part on China’s one child policy. At one, the principal witness, Wuijan, a Chinese student attending a US university testified about how her child was forcibly murdered by the government.  She said, “[T]he room was full of moms who had just gone through a forced abortion.  Some moms were crying.  Some moms were mourning.  Some moms were screaming.  And one mom was rolling on the floor with unbearable pain.”  Then Wuijan said it was her turn, and through her tears she described what she called her “journey in hell.”
                At another hearing, a woman who was the director of a family planning clinic in Fujian said that by day she was a monster, by night a wife and mother of one.
Women bear the major brunt of the one child policy not only as victimized mothers.  Due to the male preference in China’s society and the limitation of the family size to one child, the policy has directly contributed to what is accurately described as gendercide—the deliberate extermination of a girl—born or unborn—simply because she happens to be a girl.
As a result of the Chinese government’s barbaric attack on mothers and their children, there are some tens of millions of missing daughters in China today.  It has been noted that the three most dangerous words in China today are: “it’s a girl!”
Because of the missing girls—China today has become the human sex trafficking magnate of the world. Women and young girls from outside the country are being sold as commodities throughout China—a direct consequence of the one child policy.
I am the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, a comprehensive law to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers and protect victims.
One provision of the law requires an annual assessment of every country. According to this year’s TIP Report released on June 19th:
“China’s birth limitation policy, coupled with a cultural preference for sons, creates a skewed sex ratio in China, which served as a key cause of trafficking of foreign women as brides for Chinese men and for forced prostitution.”
“The government took no discernible steps to address the role that its birth limitation policy plays in fueling human trafficking in China, with gaping gender disparities resulting in a shortage of female marriage partners. The government failed to take any steps to change the policy; and in fact, according to the Chinese government, the number of foreign female trafficking victims in China rose substantially in the reporting period. The Director of the Ministry of Public Security’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force stated in the reporting period that “[t]he number of foreign women trafficked to China is definitely rising” and that “great demand from buyers as well as traditional preferences for boys in Chinese families are the main culprits fueling trafficking in China.”
A June 26th op-ed in the People’s Daily—the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party—shed light on the emerging demographic catastrophe that is China.
The article titled “Leftover men to be a big problem” admits that there is a “bachelors” crisis that will “trigger a moral crisis of marriage and family” and the “continual accumulation of the number of unmarried men will greatly increase the risk of social instability.”
At a congressional hearing I chaired last September BYU Professor Valerie Hudson, author of Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population, testified that “by year 2020 young adult bare branches—ages 15-34 will number approximately 23-25 million…the foremost repercussions will be an increase in societal instability, marked increases in crime, crimes against woman…and the formation of gangs…”
Nicholas Eberstadt, a world renowned demographer asks, “What are the consequences for a society that has chosen to become simultaneously, more gray and more male.”
In her assessment for security and potential war, Professor Hudson testified “faced with worsening instability at home, and an unsolvable economic decline at home (as China ages) China’s government may well be tempted to use foreign policy to ‘ride the tiger’ of domestic instability. The twin themes of anti-Japanese feeling and unfulfillment of China’s reunification with Taiwan will be deeply resonant to much of the population of China. In the next two or three decades, we are likely to see observable security ramifications of the masculinization of China’s growing young adult population, especially combined with an understanding of the consequences of global aging…”
Last August Vice President Joe Biden visited China, and told the audience that he was well aware of and “fully understood” the one child policy, and that he was not “second guessing” the State for imposing it.  Can you imagine what the public reaction would be if the Vice President had said that he “fully understands” and is not “second guessing” copyright infringement and gross violations of intellectual property rights?
The one child per couple policy is the most egregious, vicious attack on women ever. For the Vice President of the United States to publicly state that he fully understands the one child policy and then say he won't second guess it is unconscionable, and sells out every mom in the PRC.
Although Vice President Biden attempted to modestly backtrack on his extraordinarily callous comment about the policy, his voting record as a Senator shines a spotlight on his long-held disregard for the severity of this human rights violation.  On September 13, 2000, he joined 52 other senators in defeating an amendment by then-Senator Jessie Helms condemning the one-child policy.  Then-Senator Biden reportedly did so because he was concerned that condemning China on fundamental human rights would interfere with the normalization of trade relations.
Not only is the Obama Administration turning a blind eye to the atrocities being committed under the one child policy, but it is even contributing financial support – contrary to U.S. law – to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).   Twenty eight years ago—on May 9, 1984—I authored the first amendment ever to a foreign aid bill to deny funding to organizations such as the UNFPA that are complicit with China's forced abortion and involuntary sterilization policy.  It passed. After all these years, it is astonishing that policy makers—including and especially the Obama Administration—remain indifferent or worse, supportive, of these massive crimes against women and children.  The Obama Administration has long enabled this cruel policy by its silence and financial support to the tune of over $165 million a year to the UNFPA, an organization that supports, plans, implements, defends and whitewashes the Chinese government’s brutal program.
On one of several trips to Beijing, I challenged Peng Peiyun—then China’s director of the nation’s population control program—to end the coercion. Madame Peng told me that the UNFPA was very supportive of the one child per couple program and that the UNFPA adamantly agrees with her that the program is voluntary and that coercion doesn’t exist.
For over 30 years, the UNFPA has consistently heaped praise on China’s population control program and repeatedly urged other countries to embrace similar policies.
A few years ago, the UNFPA and the Chinese government rolled out the red carpet and hosted high level diplomats from Africa including health ministers to sell “child limitation” policies.  Despite the fact that China’s enforcement mechanism relies on heavy coercion and its aging population will soon implode its economy, some African leaders seem to have taken the bait.  Limitations on the number of children a mother may carry to term are under active consideration throughout the subcontinent.
And the UNFPA has tried to impose China-like child limitation policies on other nations as well, including the Philippines.
Finally, in 2000, I wrote a law—The Admiral James W. Nance and Meg Donovan Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal years 2000 and 2001.
Section 801 of Title VIII of that Act still in effect today requires the Secretary of State not to issue any visa to, and the Attorney General not to admit to the United States, any foreign national whom the Secretary finds, based on credible and specific information, to have been directly involved in the establishment or enforcement of forced abortion or forced sterilization.
Owing to a glaring lack of implementation, only a handful of abusers of women have reportedly been denied visas to the U.S.  That must change.
Lastly I thank each of our witnesses, whom I will shortly introduce, for being here today to speak out on this important topic.  I understand that your testimony today comes with serious concerns and careful foresight. The Subcommittee greatly appreciates your participation at this hearing, and we all look forward to hearing your important insights and recommendations.

·         At this time, no foreign affairs-related legislation is expected on the floor.
Monday, July 9, 2012
·         Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights: “Continued Human Rights Attacks on Families in China”
2:00 p.m. in Room 2172 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, Chairman
-          Pastor Bob Fu, Founder and President, ChinaAid Association
-          Ms. Reggie Littlejohn, Founder and President, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers
-          Mr. Steven Mosher, President, Population Research Institute
-          Ms. Yanling Guo, Victim of China’s population control policies
-          Mr. T. Kumar, Director of International Advocacy, Amnesty International  
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
·         Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia: “Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment”
2:00 p.m. in Room 2172 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, Chairman,
-          The Honorable Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Affairs
-          Jonathan Schanzer, Ph.D, Vice President for Research, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
    -       Mr. Jim Zanotti, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, Congressional Research Service
·         Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights: “U.S. Policy Toward Nigeria: West Africa’s Troubled Titan”
2:00 p.m. in Room 2200 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, Chairman
-          The Honorable Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State
-          The Honorable Earl Gast, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development
-          Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, President, Christian Association of Nigeria
-          Darren Kew, Ph.D, Associate Professor, McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Boston
-          Mr. Anslem John-Miller, U.S. Representative, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP)
Hearings held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn H.O.B. are available via live video through the Committee’s website at:

Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee
Excerpts of Remarks by Chairman Chris Smith
June 29, 2012
            Good morning.  Today’s hearing will examine current U.S. policy and U.S. policy options in response to the recent military coup in Mali and the larger revolt of the Tuareg people in northern Mali.
            The Tuaregs have been in conflict with the central government in Bamako, Mali, for many years, but following the service of some Tuaregs as mercenaries for the late Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, the acquisition of more sophisticated weapons from the Libyan conflict and increasing ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, they now pose a danger not only to Mali, but also to Algeria, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and perhaps even Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Mali, in recent years a model of African democracy, now finds itself struggling to resurrect democratic governance and put the military back in its proper role as part of government.  The downfall of Mali’s democracy could have a negative impact on the future of Mali, as well as the entire Sahel region of Africa.
Amadou Toumani Touré (popularly known as ATT) led a military coup in 1991 that created a transitional government and democratic elections in 1992.  Mali’s growing reputation for democratic rule was enhanced in 2002, when President Alpha Oumar Konaré, having served the two terms permitted under the constitution, stepped down, and ATT, running as an independent and leveraging his reputation as Mali’s “soldier of democracy,” was elected president.
Unfortunately, two issues eroded ATT’s initial popularity.  The first was a political system in which there appears to have been incentives for corruption.  Certainly there was a growing public perception that the system was corrupt.  The second was popular anger toward the government’s handling of the Tuareg rebellion in the North.  Weeks of protests at the government response to the northern rebellion dropped ATT's popularity to a new low.
On March 21, mutinying Malian soldiers, displeased with the management of the Tuareg rebellion, attacked several locations in the capital Bamako, including the presidential palace, state television, and military barracks. The soldiers said they had formed the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State and declared the following day that they had overthrown the government.  This forced ATT into hiding.
As a consequence of the instability following the coup, Mali's three largest northern cities—Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu—were overrun by the rebels on three consecutive days.  On April 5, after the capture of the town of Douentza, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad said that it had accomplished its goals and called off its offensive. The following day, it proclaimed independence of their homeland Azawad from Mali. The Islamist group Ansar al-Dine was later a part of the rebellion, claiming control of vast swathes of territory, although this control was disputed by the MNLA.  On May 26, the MNLA and Ansar Dine announced that they had signed a pact to join their respective territories and form an Islamic state.
Will this alliance last?  Perhaps not.  The MNLA is an offshoot of a previous nationalist political movement and is dedicated to a separate homeland for the Tuaregs and Moors who comprise its membership.  Ansar al-Dine, whose name means "Defenders of Faith", is an Islamist group believed to have links with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other Islamist groups.  Ansar al-Dine is dedicated to establishing sharia law – not only in Azawad, but also in the rest of Mali as well.  Disputes between the two groups already have resulted in gunfire involving the supposed allies.
As we hold this hearing, the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the United Nations are discussing the viability of a peacekeeping mission in Mali.  Such a mission would look to secure and protect civilian institutions and help restructure the Mali military.  However, it also will focus on the situation in the North, which will be a tremendously sensitive matter, especially if the mission of the peacekeeping force is to retake territory from the MNLA and Ansar al-Dine.
To add further to the problematic nature of a response to the Mali coup and the Tuareg revolt, there is the matter of providing humanitarian aid to the 210,000 Malian refugees in Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Algeria.  Another 167,000 Malians are internally displaced.  Many of them are in remote areas and are difficult to reach with food and medical supplies.  There is the question of how effective our aid efforts will be in such a challenging situation.
But no matter how difficult this matter is to address, there are too many people affected for the United States to fail to provide leadership in the effort to solve this political-social crisis.
To discuss this trying effort to devise a satisfactory solution to a problematic situation, we have with us a distinguished panel.


  • At this time, no foreign affairs-related legislation is expected on the floor.




Wednesday, June 20, 201

Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia Hearing: “Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt, Part II”

1:30 p.m. in Room 2200 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, Chairman


  • Mr. David Schenker, Director, Program on Arab Politics, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Michele Dunne, Ph. D., Director, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council


Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade & Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights Joint Hearing: “The African Growth and Opportunity Act: Ensuring Success”

2:00 p.m. in Room 2172 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman, U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman


  • Mr. Paul Ryberg, President, African Coalition for Trade
  • Mr. Anthony Carroll, Vice President, Manchester Trade, Ltd.
  • Mr. Jaswinder Bedi, Chairman, African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation
  • Mr. Stephen Hayes, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)


Hearings held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn H.O.B. are available via live video through the Committee’s website at:


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, D.C.— The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights and Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere will hold a joint hearing tomorrow, Thursday, February 16, 2012 titled, “Further Human Rights Violations in Castro’s Cuba: the Continued Abuse of Political Prisoners.” The hearing will examine the ongoing human rights violations against those who speak out against the ruthless Castro dictatorship. The Subcommittees will discuss the Castro regime’s prosecution of prisoners of conscience beginning at the time of their arrest, the conditions of their incarceration, and the terms surrounding any release.   The Subcommittees will receive testimony from former Cuban political prisoners as well as U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), coauthor of the Helms-Burton Act. 


TOMORROW - Thursday, February 16, 2012 

2:00 p.m.



2172 Rayburn House Office Building



Panel 1

The Honorable Dan Burton

Member of Congress


Panel 2             

To be announced

Human Rights Advocate
Former Cuban political prisoner

Mr. Normando Hernández González
Independent journalist
Former Political Prisoner – Group of 75


Hearings held in Room 2200 of the Rayburn H.O.B. are available via live video through the Committee’s website at TV and Radio outlets must register with the House Radio-TV Gallery on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 after 4pm.  Please call 202-225-5214 to register.  Print reporters may contact Andrew Lee to reserve a seat at the press table.


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