tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 14, 2015 1:00am-3:01am EDT
it would take almost $19 billion a year through the year 2030 to bring our transit aspects into good repair. these are just a handful of the statistics underscoring our nation's failure to invest in our transportation network. we have to get beyond looking at the numbers on a page. we have to talk about what congress's failre to act represents to every community. every community, every family on every day. every construction worker looking for a job. failure to act means that construction workers now face a 10% unemployment rate. a time when our infrastructure is crumbling around us. it means the business cannot compete in a globalized economy because their goods can't get to market on time. it means the working mother is
stuck in traffic and can't get home in time for dinner with her kids. and in the very worst cases cases like we saw yesterday on amtrak it might very well mean a love one is lost. congress looks at this like an academic exercise, numbers on a page to score points or balance a budget -- make an argument about which are worthy of support. that is not the real world. in the real world, the choices we make have an impact on people's lives, on their incomes, it has impact on our nations ability to compete. on america's ability to leave the economy globally in the world. we in congress are failing to recognize the real-world impacts on the choices we make about transportation infrastructure. we have a passenger railroad
that expired in 2013. we have a highway trust fund on the brink of insolvency with no plans to fix it. we have an outdated aviation system that we refuse to adequately fund. we have failed to upgrade the available technologies that can reduce the number of failures. we have appropriation bill aiming to cut already low funding levels of amtrak in particular to meet an arbitrary budget cap for the sake of political points. i can understand that. i can't understand it. we are living off the greatest generations invested in this country. and we have done nothing to honor that investment, to sustain it, or to build upon it. and yet nothing we are doing
is aimed at fixing the problem. our actions come with an extraordinarily high cost. i can tell you, at the senior democrat on the subcommittee on mass transit, i categorically reject the idea that we cannot afford to fix our transportation system. the truth is, we can't afford not to fix it. the amtrak incident is a tragic reminder that we have to act. we are reminded of the tragic consequences of inaction and the impact on workers and families. on their ability to get to work and be safe. as a member of the finance committee, and the ranking member of the transit subcommittee, i have been advocating. we cannot keep pretending that the problem will solve itself. we can't afford to wait.
i hope that everyone in this chamber, democrats republicans and independents alike, will come together and work together to make progress in building a future that we can be proud of. we can start by putting politics aside and thinking about the safety of the american people. think about the future, think about america's competitiveness and finding common ground to do whatever it takes to invest in america's railroads roads highways, and bridges. let us not wait until there is another tragic headline. to see the consequences of what happens was as people around the northeast corridor door are trying to find out alternate ways. and all the transit lines of states and regions in the northeast corridor door that depend upon using amtrak lines to get to destinations or
residences. to get people to one of the great hospitals along the northeast corridor door. to get people to the nation's capital. to get people and their sales forces of companies to work. to get home. let us not wait until we have another tragedy to think about the consequences of our transportation system, what it means to the nation. or to see until the next time what drives a loss. i think we can do much better, esther president. and i have faith that hopefully, this will be a crystallizing moment on this critical issue. >> the house look at the presentation bill that would include funding for amtrak. they spoke about yesterday's accidents.
we will hear from committee chair harold rogers, mario diaz, and committee ranking member need anita lowe. >> before we begin today, i would like everyone to keep in their thoughts and prayers the passengers and employees, first responders and victims families who are involved in last night's amtrak derailment just outside philadelphia. a number of agencies in this bill, the department of transportation, the federal railroad and ministration, amtrak philadelphia's amtrak system, and the national reputation safety board are all working to respond to the derailment and to respond to the aid and comfort of the victims and families.
it is likely to be a while before we get answers on the why and how this happened. the ntsb is on-site, starting their investigation. i know the federal railroad administration and amtrak are there to cooperate and assist in any way possible. that is why it is so important that the committee complete its work, so that these agencies can do their tours. with that, let me turn now to the chairman of the subcommittee mario siazdiaz on his maiden voyage through the choppy seas. >> thank you very much. the morning to all of you. before we begin, we want to extend our thoughts and
prayers as well. the health care providers who always do such a great job, the unsung heroes. we can speak not only for everyone on this committee around the country that our hearts and prayers are with them. it is a sad and frightening event. as a chairman said, with any transportation disaster, ntsb will conduct a thorough investigation. an incident report of their findings, and from those findings, congress must look at what we can do to avoid this from ever happening again. >> i know our hearts and prayers are with all those families who lost their loved ones. at this horrific accident. and to all those families, as a new yorker, we worry about those
who are in hospitals or doctors offices with serious serious effects as a result of this crash. i do hope we can keep the accident in mind, my colleagues, throughout today's markup. maybe they conserve as a reminder of the importance of safety programs that are underfunded and this bill. these programs that are underfunded in this bill have to be looked at with eagle eyes on the part of all of us. because i know it is going to take months for us to finally resolve this budget, so we can have real bills that can affect
the future of our country. and in this bill, we are talking about capital investments. that not only affect the safety of the program but are providing real jobs for working families. i look forward to the report of the ntsb. i hope it will be soon. and again, i know the thoughts of all of us are with the grieving families. i'd like to congratulate the chairman, ranking member price and the ranking member of the subcommittee i thank them and full committee chairman rogers for their work. the chairman has been attentive to many of the concerns of members. and i do want to sincerely thank him for working with me to highlight that safety in the
aftermath of the horrible metro-north crash that killed six people in february. i think it is important that we look carefully not just to this accident, but the other accidents that have taken place. this bill is $6.8 billion below the president's request for transportation. $6.8 billion, and that includes safety and capital programs. >> here are a few of the book festivals we will be covering on c-span tv. this weekend, we visit maryland for live coverage of the gaithersburg book festival. as well as former senior adviser to president obama, david axelrod. we close up may at book expo america, where the publishing industry showcases their
upcoming works. in june, we are live for the printers row book best, with surprising author lawrence wright. that is the spring, on c-span two's book tv. >> religious and ethnic minorities attacked talk about their experiences, as well as the militant groups targeting of sites. they want to provide assistance to displaced minorities. >> this committee hearing will come to order. today, we focus on the minority communities, the many minority communities that are under brutal attack. some of them on the brink of extermination by isis.
by isis principally in iraq and syria, but elsewhere as well. and we're joined by individuals who have personally faced this threat and are familiar with the extreme hardship, with the grief that displaced minorities face in that troubled region. isis has unleashed a campaign of brutal violence, depraved violence, not only against shia muslims and fellow sunnis who do not share their radical beliefs, but against vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities. and as ms. isaac put it simply in her prepared testimony, we cherish ethnic and religious diversity. isis hates it. many americans may not realize that iraq and syria are home to dozens of ethnic and religious minorities with ancient
cultures, with deep roots. these communities, syrian and caldian christians, yazidis and others are under mortal threat in their ancestral homelands. and the mass execution of men, the enslavement of women and children, the destruction of religious sites is part of the isis effort to destroy these communities, to destroy all evidence of the preexistence of these communities. in fact, isis maintains a special battalion, and they call it the demolition battalion. and that battalion is charged with going after art and going after artifacts, religious and historic sites that it considers heretical and its job is to simply destroy history. the situation for some of these
groups was precarious even br isis. according to some estimates, more than half of the ethnic and religious minorities have fled the country over the last dozen years, but what they face today is annihilation by isis. and the influx of isis extremists has become a plague. the fall of multosul uprooted two million souls, two million human beings. members will recall last august to break the siege at mount sinjar, where thousands of yazidi refugee families have been trapped by isis. the physical security and welfare of displaced minorities is an immediate priority. options for u.s. assistance
range from additional material support to friendly forces. all the way to creating safe zones, or no fly zones. and while it's important to weigh the cost of each option, we cannot lose sight of the fact that people are being kidnapped, people are being tortured, women are being raped, and children, and they're being killed every day. beyond that, we need to focus more on their psychological well-being. many of those people, especially women and girls, have been subjected to unspeakable traumas. the young men are mostly just slaughtered. and as with any displaced population, as their vulnerability increases, so does the threat of human trafficking. what can be done to better protect women and girls at risk of slavery? finally, what can and should be done to keep these evacuations from becoming permanent?
it would be a tragedy if well intended resettlement fulfilled the goal of isis itself. in other words, to drive these believers out. are there ways to support the reconstruction of local institutions in civil society so that post-isis, and there must be a post-isis, these communities can return and thrive in their ancestral homelands. i'll now turn to the ranking member, mr. eliot engel of new york, who has been a true leader on syria and on the humanitarian and human rights disaster in the region, for his opening comments. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and thank you, as always, for calling this important hearing. and let me also thank our witnesses for joining us today. we're very appreciative that you're here.
this committee has taken a hard look at the brutal campaign isis is raging in iraq and syria. we've learned about the broader threat isis poses across the middle east and around the world. we know how dangerous this group is. we heard how many people have lost their homes and their livelihoods and their lives in the wake of this violence. and today, we will focus on the heartbreaking struggles of christians, yazidis and muslims who defy the barbaric perversion of islam espoused by isis. we will hear about the dangers that these communities face every day, how isis has killed raped, and enslaved those who don't fall in line with their fanaticism. and i hope their stories will remind us and our partners and allies around the world that we must do everything possible to help these people. we will also hear about the attempt by isis to erase the history of these communities. we've all seen videos and reports of isis destroying ancient sites and historical
artifacts in the territories they control. these are not random acts of vandalism. isis is deliberately targeting cultural property for two reasons. firstly, the to loot and steal cultural artifacts to fund their violent campaigns. and secondly, to destroy what is left in a calculated effort to eradicate minority cultures. this form of psychological warfare against yazidis, christians, muslim minorities, and anyone else that refuses to bow to their oppression, from the tomb of jonah in mosul, to yazidi shrines in the sinjar region, isis is trying to rewrite history. we have seen this tactic before. the buddhas destroyed by the taliban in afghanistan. the nazi destruction of jewish religious property during world war ii. we cannot allow another vicious group to reshape our record of the past. we need to cut off the profits isis gets from trafficking looted artifacts and to ramp up
our efforts to save cultural property from destruction. a few weeks ago, this committee unanimously passed to protect and preserve into national property act, which i introduced with representative smith, chairman reus, and representative keating. this would help save cultural property from isis's campaign and we need to get this bill to the president's desk. we also need to stay focused on bringing belief to those living under the yolk of isis. i hope our witnesses can shed some light on what religious minorities living under isis control need the most. the administration's response to degrade and destroy isis is a good start. but it's a start. united states has worked to cut off financial support to isis, to stem the flow of foreign fighters, to deliver robust rue
humanitarian assistance, to provide support to our partners including through air strikes and to push back against the violent ideology promoted by isis. but as we will hear today, people are still suffering in isis-held territory, and i hope today's testimony will underscore from my colleagues the need to pass a new authorization for the use of military force or aumf. i have said this before and i will say it again and again and again until congress acts on its responsibility and passes a new authorization. finally, i want to say that some of us are wearing red today. i'm wearing a red tie. my good friend is wearing a red blouse. and we're doing this because we want to focus on the girls who have disappeared under boko haram. while boko haram is not isis certainly affiliated. their tactics are just as brutal and its terrorism all around the world and we need to stand up in this congress and show that we will thwart it in any way possible. only colleagues will also wear red.
once again, i thank our witnesses and i look forward to hearing your testimony. and thank you, mr. chairman, for your leadership as always. >> thank you, mr. engel. our panel that we're joined by here today include sister diana momeka, located in mosul, iraq. sister diana, one of many thousands forced from their homes by an isis offensive last year has been involved in providing assistance to other internally displaced iraqis currently residing in erbil and raising awareness of the plight of minorities displaced from nineveh. ms. jacqueline isaac is the vice president of roads of success, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and minorities in the middle east. ms. isaac's work has
included refugee to aid missions and helping victims in iraq, jordan, and egypt. ms. hind kabawat is the director of interfaith peace building at
the center for world religions diplomacy, and conflict resolution for george mason university. ms. kabawat has trained hundreds of syrians in multi-faith collaboration, civil society development, women's empowerment, and in negotiation skills throughout the middle east, including in aleppo, syria. dr. katherine hanson is a fellow at penn cultural heritage center for the university of pennsylvania museum specializing in the protection of cultural heritage. specifically on the threats to me -- she recently served as the program director for the archaeological site preservation program at the iraqi institute for the conservation of antiquities and heritage in erbil. without objection, the witnesses
all prepared statements, will be made part of the record. members are going to have five calendar days to submit comments
and questions on any material they might want to put into the record. with that, sister diana, please summarize your remarks. and sister diana, she'll push that button, that red button there for you. >> thank you. thank you, chairman royce and distinguished members of the committee for inviting me today to share my views on ancient communities under attack. >> sister, i'm going to suggest you move the microphone right in front there. just project a little bit. thank you. >> okay. thank you. november 2009, a bomb was detonated at our convent in mosul. five sisters were in the building at the time and they were lucky to have escaped unharmed. our sister asked for protection from local civilization authorities, but the pleas went
unanswered. as such, she had no choice but to move us. on june 10, 2014, the so-called islamic state in iraq or syria or isis, invaded the nineveh plain. starting with the city of mosul, isis overran one city and town after another, giving the christians of the region three choices, convert to islam, pay tribute to isis, leave their cities, cities like mosul, with nothing more than the clothes on their back. as this horror suppressed through all of the nineveh plain, by august 6, 2014 nineveh was empty of christians and sadly for the first time since the seventh century a.d. no church bells rang for mass in the nineveh plain.
from june 2014 forward, more than 120,000 people found themselves displaced and homeless in the kurdistan region of iraq, leaving behind their heritage and all they had worked for over the centuries. this uprooting of everything that christians owned, body and soul, stripping away their humanity and dignity. to add insult to injury, the initiative is that iraqi and kurdish governments were at best modest and slow. apart from allowing christians to enter the region, the kurdish government did not offer any aid either financial or material. i understand the great strain that these events have placed on baghdad and erbil. however, it has been almost a year and christian iraqi citizens are still in dire need for help. many people spend days and weeks in the street before they found shelter in tents, schools, and
homes. thankfully the churches stepped forward and cared for displaced christians. doing her very best to handle this disaster. buildings were open to accommodate the people. food and non-food items were provided to meet the immediate needs of the people and medical health services were also provided. moreover, the church put out a call and many humanitarian organizations answered with aid for thousands of people in need. presently, we are grateful for what has been done. with most people now sheltered in small containers or some homes, though better than living on the streets or abandoned buildings. these small units are few in number and are crowded with three families. each with multiple people, often accommodated in one unit.
this is, of course, increasing tension and conflict, even within the same family. there are many who say, why don't the christians just leave iraq and move to another country and be done with it? to this question, we would respond, why should we leave our country, what have we done? the christians of iraq are the first people of the land. you read about us in the old testament of the bible. christianity came to iraq from the very earliest days, through the preaching of st. thomas and others of the apostles and church elders. while our ancestors experienced all kinds of persecution, they built a culture that has served humanity for ages. we as christians do not want or deserve to leave or be forced out of our country any more than you would want to leave or be
forced out of yours. but the current persecution that our community is facing is the most brutal in our history. not only have we been robbed of our homes, property, and land, all but our heritage is being destroyed as well. isis has continued to demolish and bomb our churches, cultural artifacts and sacred places, like a fourth century monastery in mosul. uprooted and forcefully displaced, we have realized that isis plans to evacuate the land of christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that we ever existed. this is human genocide. the only christians that remain in the nineveh plains are those who are held as hostages. to restore and build the
christian community in iraq, the following needs our urgent. helping us return. coordinated efforts to rebuild what was destroyed through slaughter, and electrical supplies and buildings including our churches and monasteries. incouraging enterprises that contribute to the building of iraq and interreligious dialogue. encouraging enterprises that contribute to the building of iraq and interreligious dialogue. this could be through school and academic projects. i am but one small person. a victim myself of isis, and all of its brutality. coming here has been difficult for me. as a religious sister, i'm not comfortable with the media and so much attention. but i am here, and i am here to ask you, to implore you for the
sake of our common humanity, to help us, stand with us, as we, as christians, have stood with all the people of the world and help us. we want nothing more than to go back to our lives. we want nothing more than to go home. thank you and god bless you. >> thank you, sister. ms. isaac. >> honorable chairman royce, ranking member engel and distinguished members of this committee, i'm honored to be here today. thank you so much for having a crucial hearing that really is a matter of life or death. i'm not talking to you as an attorney, i'm not talking as a politician. i'm talking about being a human being who's been on the front lines. i've been to sinjar mountain. i've met the girls that have been kidnapped and raped by
isis. and i'm telling you that we need to give them seeds of hope. seeds of hope to know that they can live and thrive in their home. i'm here because i promised these people, my friends across the world, that i would be their voices today. hear their narratives. i'm here today because of a woman i met. she was in mosul in home at night and out of nowhere, isis came in and said you have two choices. you either convert to islam, or you pay the gizziah. she gave them the money and said give me one minute because my daughter is in the bathroom taking a shower, i'm just going to get her out. they said, you don't have one second. they took a torch, they lit the house, starting from the bathroom where she was taking a shower. she picked up her daughter rita, and she thought she could take her to the hospital. she had four-degree burns, but rita died in her arms. i'm here
today because of joy. an 11-year-old paralyzed kid from the neck down. isis found him in sinjar town. they thought that he was useless to society, so they picked him up with 190 paralyzed and elderly people and they threw him in the border of syria. but in the midst of all this darkness, i see that there's light. light can breakthrough the darkness, and we need to take our role as human beings, push them and help them to survive and thrive. let me tell you what happened to joy. the heroes of today, the peshmerga army found him with the other 190 and they rescued them, and today they're living
in safety and the peshmerga army, who's out there risking their lives, are doing this on a constant basis. they are constantly rescuing the innocents. one of those innocent girls that i met, i don't want to disclose her name for privacy purposes. she's 15 years old. and in one night in sinjar town, isis came in and took her with a group of hundreds of girls into a broken down building. and isis came in and they started to trade. trading her off. categorizing these girls as merchandise depending on whether they were beautiful in their eyes, how old they were, whether they were virgins or not. literally treating them like merchandise. she was sent off and she was being raped on a constant basis, and she decided to make an escape. she believed that she'd rather die trying.
she believed that somebody out there, another human being would help her if she made an escape. and in one night, she broke out of a window and she started to make a run for it. my brave friend went hours hiking on the top of the sinjar mountain. but isis came back for her. and took her back. when she went to that house, they starved her, they beat her, and again, she said, i'd rather die trying. isis forgot to fix the window they broke. and she made a run for it. and this time, she made it to the very top. and who was there to stand by her side? the peshmerga army. the kurdish regional government, who have already rescued at least 480 girls and children. 30 of which are impregnated. many of those that have been
impregnated by isis committed suicide. the others who received the counselling, who received that push of hope, that seed that each of us can provide, started to dream again. started to see a future. today, i ask for four things. i ask that we support the brave peshmerga army, who's resisting terror at the front lines. they're not just fighting to protect their land. they're not fighting to preserve the religious minorities alone. they're fighting for the entire world. second, i ask that we provide humanitarian assistance, more and more of it, because today there's about two million refugees and idps living in the kurdistan regional government region and they need our support. they need psychological counselling to deal with the trauma. we're talking about a future
generation here. let's help them good what they need. let's help the brave government that's on the front lines. the armies that are truly the boots on the ground. i ask that we recognize the amazing rescue efforts. and lastly, i ask of you to help their partners. country like egypt who's now taking hundreds of thousands of syrians in their and land. a country like egypt when the president heard that 21 christians were killed in libya, acted immediately by deploying those air strikes. a country like jordan is taking in hundreds of thousands of idps and fighting on those front lines. let's support them, because this is a matter of national security. it's not about them. it's about all of us together. i have a video, if we have a moment to show these girls they're going to share with us
>> thank you, jacqueline. ms. kabawat. >> thank you, chairman royce. ranking member engel. and other members of the committee. i am honored to be here today and speak to you about the status of religious minorities in syria. a subject very close to my heart. growing up as a christian in syria, i was surrounded by rich multi-religious history. i have lived much of my life on a road so ancient, it was mentioned in the bible. today, it saddens me to see the christians in syria paying a very high price for this senseless war. they have been running from
their villages and homes. they are displaced. their churches are being destroyed. a report by my colleague on the destroyed churches in syria, including those destroyed by isis and by the regime. protecting christians is essential. but why i urge you to do whatever is possible to protect minorities and christians from isis, i would like to remind you that isis is killing any and every muslim who oppose them. just as minorities and muslims are killed by assad regime. my friend jemilla, a very religious muslim, was threatened by isis and escaped at night to turkey fearing death.
some sunni tribes have suffered massive losses to isis. for example, isis forced more than 500 jews in one day last year. women and children live constant traumatizing fear of rape and recruitment by isis. as a christian, i cannot request safety for my christian community without worrying about others. yes, we need to create safe havens for minorities and all groups threatened by isis. it's monumental and worthwhile task. and when selecting these areas
your organization is essential. areas close to turkish and jordan borders are the best candidate because of the guarantee that those borders will remain secure. additionally, an important component of safe havens will be the proximity to protect zone. by first liberating all isis controlled cities in these zones. the secretary of the safe haven will be easier to maintain.urity of the safe haven will be easier to maintain. i have visited camps in turkey jordan, and idp camp inside syria, and others. the women there want to go back home. they want to live without fear. as we discuss, religious minorities, i urge you also to consider the need of women who have been marginalized as well.
they are the key to peace process, and the key to establishing community that provides support for one another across sectarian lines. empowering local councils to deliver social services is another essential component of establishing safe havens for all syrians. the base guarantee for the prosperities of minorities in the middle east is under a democracy that accords everyone the same rights and privileges regardless of their ethnic or religious background. the message to minorities in the middle east should be one inclusion. encouraging them to be part of the democratic process. which is the only long-term possibility to defeat extremism
and dictatorship in our country. thank you, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. thank you. dr. hanson. >> chairman royce, ranking member engel, and members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss isis's destruction of minority religious and cultural sites. isis's campaign of targeted extermination includes the erasure of the outward manifestations of minority religious culture, which threatens these communities' way of life. i study the subject as a fellow at the penn cultural heritage center of the university of pennsylvania museum. but, like others on this panel i was in iraq in august 2014 when isis advanced toward the erbil plain. as a program director at the iraqi institute for the conservation of antiquities and heritage in erbil, i was leading
a course for heritage professionals from throughout the country, men and women of every religion. this training was interrupted and we departed abruptly shortly after air strikes began. despite the setback, the desire of iraqi heritage professionals to protect the religious and cultural sites of the country remain strong. based on my current research experience in iraq, and consultation with iraqi colleagues, i want to share some examples of isis's destruction. slide one, please. in july 2014 in mosul, iraq, it isin july 2014 in mosul iraq, isis destroyed the tomb of the prophet jono. analysis of satellite imagery by the american association for the advances of sciences geospaces technology project where i am a visiting scholar confirmed this destruction. slide two, please. this analysis also showed that isis removed all evidence of the shrine by clearing rubble.
and grading the site flat. in doing so, isis erased the physical presence for the entire local religious community. slide three, please. it is an archaeological site in syria with preserved architecture. it includes the world's best preserved ancient jewish synagogue and one of the earliest known christian house chapels. the chapel dates to about 235 a.d. and contains the oldest known depiction of jesus christ. slide four, please. the site has been extensively looted and is currently under isis control. the before-and-after image analyzed analysis completed by the geotech project, demonstrates this over 76% of the site's surface has now been lost. slide five, please. two months ago, i traveled to the area adjacent to isis held areas.
i met with the director of the antiquities department to identify religious and cultural sites at risk. this site may be one of the only surviving yazidi religious centers. slide six, please. isis has released two videos that include the defacement of an ancient sculpture. these are human headed winged bulls. in ancient times, they represented the empire from the ninth to seventh century bc. today, they serve as important symbols for syrian christians. isis's defacement is thus intended to terrorize the present day iraqi christian community while simultaneously destroying artifacts. in thinking about how we can address this destruction, i would like to offer three recommendations. first, we must prepare humanitarian assistance to religious and refugee communities as well as to displaced heritage
professionals. in the near future, i will return to erbil, iraq, with colleagues from the university of pennsylvania museum and the smithsonian institution, and there we will work with iraqi colleagues to determine unmet emergency needs. more programs like this are necessary, and the u.s. government should encourage new collaborations in the non-profit sector. second, this committee should inquire into efforts to protect religious and other cultural sites during military actions against isis. there is a report that should shed some light on these efforts due in june 2015 thanks to a provision sponsored by mr. engel in the national defense authorization act. i recommend that this committee scrutinize the report carefully for evidence that steps are being taken to avoid accidental air strikes on religious and cultural sites, and that protection measures are incorporated into advisory roles and military training. finally, there is bipartisan
legislation to protect and preserve international cultural property act, introduced by mr. engel, mr. smith, mr. royce, and mr. keating. its purpose is twofold. to bring together the agencies that have existing mandates to protect heritage, and to eliminate the financial incentive for entities such as isis to loot religious and cultural artifacts. i commend this community for its bipartisan leadership on this bill and i urge you to advocate for its final passage into law. i would like to thank the chairman for convening this important hearing at a very critical juncture in the preservation of religious and cultural heritage. i am happy to answer any questions that you have. >> thank you, dr. hanson. that legislation, by the way has been passed out of committee. it's on the floor. and we're going to move it shortly, and i would just make a couple of observations.
one is that this isis phenomenon, another way it could have been handled was when isis originally was in raqqa as they were leaving raqqa. there were those of us on this committee, as well as some of our ambassadors overseas that suggested the overwhelming u.s. air power hit the isis forces in raqqa or hit the isis forces as they were leaving in their long caravan as they begin their attacks, town by town by town. and we did not act from the air at that time. we allowed them to take some 14 major cities, culminating in taking mosul without the use of air power at the time, to stop them while they were in these long columns. subsequently, we began the process in this committee, bipartisan, to argue for arming the kurds. why? because the kurdish battalions were strung out a 600-mile front
with isis. they were one effective force, not just fighting isis, but taking in behind their front lines christians, yazidis, other minorities, and willing to put themselves at risk to go into territory isis-held in order to rescue yazidis and other minorities, and they were fighting with small arms fire against isis, which had become the best fighting terror group in the history of any terror organization because they took the central bank at mosul and had at their disposal enormous wealth, and because they took weapons along the way. so our efforts here have gone on now i would say for nine months to try to get into the hands of the kurds the anti-tank missiles, the artillery, the long-range mortars that they need on the battlefield. 30% of these kurdish battalions
are females. there are women fighting on the front lines against isis and they are fighting without adequate equipment, and as you put it so well, they're fighting for civilization. not just their own. for other religious minorities and frankly, for a principle. and because of the pressure from iran, pressure on baghdad, you know, yes, you can support the shia militia, but you can't give support to the kurds. for whatever reason, the weapons dribble in, and this is wrong. this is immoral. the other point i would make, i just wanted to ask you some questions on the issue of the sale of female captives from religious minority groups to isis fighters. how extensively has isis been involved in what we here call sex trafficking, or slavery, frankly, particularly the kidnapping and sale of women and girls from these overrun communities.
has it been an outcome of lawlessness, or is it part of a more deliberate isis policy to destroy and to subjugate those who do not share their fanaticism? ms. isaac? >> looking at the isis philosophy, they believe that the yazidi people in particular are not only to be tortured, but they are to be destroyed in every single way possible. they want them off the face of this earth. and so it is a philosophy to destroy them and to torture them. with the girls particularly that i met, they in one night
because they felt safe in the beginning in sinjar town, and in one night, isis came and took all of these girls and they told them first, they gave them an option, they said will you become a muslim? will you convert to islam? and many of them said no. and they told them, you are going to be muslim regardless, because we are going to sleep with you, and the moment that we do that, once we rape you, you will be muslim. many of these girls who chose not to be still were raped and came back believing that they were forced into this religion. this is barbaric. it is systematic. to date today it starts with the yazidis. tomorrow it's going to be not only the christians, but every woman that doesn't fit within their philosophy. we need to stop the menace that's going on there.
we need to stop at its root. this is a nerve center. right now, all the crazies from all over the world are coming to this center point. to this nerve center. if we can cut the snake at its head, we can diffuse them. their sex trafficking is systematic and it will continue, and it can reach our families if we don't do something about it. thank you. >> let me also ask about psychological counselling. and i'd ask that of the panel. what type of trauma resources are available right now for those who have escaped, and what more is yeah, i would say from my work on the ground, we don't have that strong program to talk about trauma because i just experienced a case go four weeks
ago, a woman who was released by isis with 20aa yadi women thrown in, this is a christian, you take it, we go to our yazidi family. she was in her 40s, brutally beaten, raped constantly, yet her psychological situation is destroy ed destroyed. she can't control herself anymore when she tells her story how they tortured her in so many ways when one of the sisters who took her found her body with you know, with the burn of the smoke and all of that. so the woman now we put her in a safer place, yet trying to find a good psychological treatment for her yet it's not available
where we live exactly. as so we lack for that thing. so the social psychological programs, i think they are the most important thing to look to work on at this moment. >> thank you. my time's about to expire. i'll go to mr. engel. >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. hanson, first after all, thank you for being here today. thank you for your work to help iraqi citizens save their religious history. as you know, america has a long history of leading the world in efforts to protect religious and cultural sites from destruction and you're carrying this legacy forward today. during time of crisis such as those in iraq and syria, first priority must always be in saving lives and i thank the other witness for emphasizing that as well. ms. isaac, about the women's aspect, and our other witnesses about how this is affecting everybody.
we're committed to the priority of the saving lives but we also must ensure that we stop isis from destroying the history of these groups. as we create safe havens to protect religious minorities how do we protect cultural sites safety, as well? >> thank you. i think it's very important that we make sure we're supporting local actions, local actors are able to protect sites, much like with firemen, you provide the hose and the water. i also think that in terms of safe havens for individuals, we can also think about that as safe havens within a country for portable objects and artifacts and safe locations where things can be moved. we have seen that successfully take place in mali, for instance, recently. >> thank you.
ms. kabawat, let me ask you this question, according to state department testimony last summer, some of isis' religious minority captives have been able to escape while their captors were distracted by coalition air strikes. to what extent have coalition air strikes affected religious minorities? >> when we talk about effect of the air strikes, it affect both majority and minorities because they did hit some civilian places and i was in hiding one month before they started, and where i was was lots of civilians has been hit. the problem is that they need to have more homework. they should know where the civilian, so when we want to say
targeting civilians, minorities, we need to say targeting civilians and we cannot say only minority because it's sometimes hitting everybody. thank you. >> thank you. let me ask miss isaac, and also sister, isis is waging obviously a campaign of destruction against religious sites across the territory they control. we saw the slides and pictures. can you comment on the impact, the destruction of religious sites have on the people who share a religious connection to those sites? what do we lose when isis destroys these sites? let me start with sister and then miss isaac. sister: what do we lose? i would say we lost everything sir.
we lost everything that today every christian that's living in the region of kurdistan we feel we don't have dignity anymore. when you lose your home, you lose everything you have. you lose your heritage, your culture, you become with no identity. and today that's how we see ourselves. and the most brutal thing to us when it was put on tv that two monasteries that were one of them bombed and another one destroyed, just was a sign for us and that's your history is gone. you are nothing anymore. that's how we see ourselves now, homeless. >> thank you. miss isaac? ms. isaac: as an american of
egyptian descent i moved to , egypt when i was 13, and i remember holding on to the heritage, knowing there were ancient churches still there even if we were the minority. i had a tie, i could identify with my ancient churches. today in iraq you have the center preserved for the yazidis, that is their mecca that is their rome. today they hold on to that and the peshmerga is working so hard to protect the area because they know, if that is gone the , yazidi people will feel hopeless, they won't identify anymore with the land they've remained in for many years. for religious minorities in this region, our heritage is everything. it ties us that land. it keeps us there. we're not supposed to just be there to survive. we should be living there to thrive, we should be able to worship freely, go to the heritage sites, bring our
children and grand children and talk about that history. without those sites, we've lost it all. thank you. >> thank you. let me again thank all four of you for wonderful testimony and wonderful courage. we really appreciate it. thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman: thank you. our chairman emeritus. chairman and moritz: thank you so much. today's hearing, as we know, focuses on a subject that all too often gets overlooked or ignored when discussing the crisis in the middle east and specifically the fight against isil. we have discussed this in our middle east and north africa subcommittee on several occasions, long side chairman smith and his subcommittee and chris smith has been a tireless advocate for this issue.
isil has issued warnings to christians in iraq that they can convert, pay taxes, or be killed. churches are being destroyed religious artifact sites are being raided and many christians and other religious minorities have been forced to flee. isil massacred 20 coptic christians in egypt and the list goes on and on. isil just doesn't target religious minorities, everyone who doesn't ascribe to its form of islam is a target. so that's why it's imperative that we not only defeat isil but find a way to defeat its radical ideology as well. it's also important to recognize that the persecution of religious minorities isn't just isolated to isil or to iraq or syria. the u.s. commission on international religious freedom has repeatedly called upon the obama administration to designate countries like iraq, syria, and egypt as countries of particular concern. that's a special classification. why? for their systemic ongoing and egregious abuses that the religious minorities face in those countries. many of us in this committee
have decried the fact that the iranian regime's deplorable human rights record and persecution of religious minorities were not made a part of the nuclear negotiations from day one since the p5+1 efforts were announced. a nuclear deal will legitimize the iranian regime and only serve to make the atmosphere even worse for religious minorities in iran. iran's meddling in iraq, its support for shiite militias have played a significant role in the rise of eiffel and the current difficulties we face in the region and the fight against the terror group in iraq and syria. now we have seen the size of the religious minority communities decline dramatically in iraq and syria as a result of isil's onslaught. sister diana, i'll ask you. you felt the pain and the suffering of your own community and you've been witness to what isil has done to ancient religious communities of iraq.
you have been displaced twice. can you describe for us the conditions in mosul where you were forced to flee to kurdistan? could you please also detail the conditions in kurdistan? lastly what more can we do to meet the needs of religious minority communities? where can we be most effective? >> thank you. sister i would answer your : question in a story that touches my heart a lot and the heart of the people that we're working with. when we were forced to leave, we -- our children became without any education, without school. so a congregation we care a lot about education as dominican. we start opening kindergartens. so we had 135 children in one of the kindergartens, we handed -- one of the classes we hand them papers to draw on the paper.
amazingly, most of the children they draw back home, their hometowns. they draw some their beds, church, homes, that they relate back home. when we asked them why did you do that? they said, we miss home, we want to go back home. we want to live normal life. 5-year-olds, stood up and said i don't feel like i am home here. when i was home, i used to go to the kindergarten, i used to go to church with my family. i used to play with my toys, with my friends. that was a normal life when we were back in our homes. we used to live normal life, we have education, our parents, brother, sisters, if they are employed would go to work. now it's the opposite. people are jobless. women do not have any work to do. they are living in containers or
unfinished buildings, facing terrible conditions besides the humanitarian aid is not enough for them. it's so different that today even our children, what i want to say, our children, they feel that they don't have a place to live properly. they don't have home. so our life has changed tremendously. since before we were this is a bridge that we can connect among diversities now we felt we're alone, we're abandoned. that's how we feel. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. we know that isil doesn't discriminate. you're either with the terrorists or they will destroy you or subjugate you. >> thank you. >> thank you. we will go to mr. brad sherman from california red brad sherman: mr. chairman the two most powerful forces in the sear ran, iraq area are shiite alliance in
iran, and the extremists sunnis, on the other. we've seen our friends saudi arabia and others do is move towards what they'll accept as quote, moderate islam, or acceptable islam, and embrace the brotherhood, turkey, qatar and perhaps even alal nustra. had we did more in the process saudi arabia would not be taking that action. the good news is that, reports in the last half hour that the number two commander in isis has been killed. i hope that's true. we'll see. mr. chairman, you commented that isis has all of this iraqi currency. iraq, should of course issue new currency, making its own currency invalid. many countries have done this. this is a process that is hated
by corrupt politicians and drug dealers and of course the iraqi government has failed to do so which leads to possible conclusion perhaps corrupt politicians with huge stashes of cash have some power in baghdad. this congress passed the near east south central asia religious freedom act. that required that the state department have a special envoy for religious minorities in that region. we are still waiting for someone to be appointed. do not hold your breath. the attitude of the administration toward following laws just because they are laws is less than i think it ought to be. speaking of laws passed by congress, we authorized $1.6 billion in nada to counter isil,
ms. -- this included authorization amened to include provisions for local security forces on the plane including syrian and yazidi forces some -- so far that hasn't happened. and of course, communities that cannot defend themselves are in a difficult circumstance on the plane. one of our witnesses has been unabashed in support of the british government miss isaac. , i had in my office yesterday representatives of the yazidi, syrian, and kurdish communities that took a very different view of the kurdish government. perhaps a balance between the two is that the kurdish government provided sanctuary but not allowed these groups to form their own national guard battalions, and no group on the plane will be safe unless they have their own national guard.
mr. chairman, i would like to see us bring to testify before this committee one of the yazidi women who have successfully fled from isis this would require the state department provide an entry visa and if the person and if the woman or girl was coming from kurdish areas, we would need to get an exit visa from that government. >> mr. sherman? if i could interrupt for a minute. we did have a young yazidi woman, a young girl, slated to testify. she had to drop off of the trip because of health reasons. >> ah. >> but we will achieve your goal here. i'll relinquish the time back to you. >> thank you. >> miss kabawat, yazidis are giving the choice, convert, die,
or be given an unfair tax. i put three in one category. something that muslim governments have imposed upon the minority communities for centuries and in prior centuries it has been a tax that was endurable, of course it's outrageous and unfair. is isis imposing a tax that is outrageous, unfair, but is a practical thing that the communities could pay, or is it just an excuse for them to say well, we want to confiscate everything on monday, that's your monday tax. on tuesday you don't have anything left so we're going to kill you? is isis offering to allow at least christians the yazidis, of course, would be treated differently under their roles,
a chance to stay in their homes and pay a tax consistent with what is possible, of course, it's outrageous? >> just talking about syria, where the isis has full control, most of the christian, there is not many christians now in the isis-control area. when there, they hide. they did say they're going -- they're asking for -- it happened a few time but i think there's not many christians in this area, they're already gone. in other things, the christians now they're all in aleppo or others. they've been away. but where they are being now in where there is the moderate
muslims control, they're not being asked for any because they treat them as equal dana -- citizen. thank you. >> i believe my time's expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. dana rohrabacher of california. >> thank you very much. let me identify myself with mr. sherman's point about the iraqi currency. we must get to the bottom of who the heck is paying for isis who, what -- what government is responsible for providing them money? whoever that is, we need to make sure we come down like a ton of bricks on that government. and we must make sure that is a high priority for this government to find out who's financing this sinful and this horrendous atrocity against the people of the world. whatever faith you are, whether
you're islam or christian or whatever faith you are, this is an abomination to any belief in god. we must stand in unity with people of all faiths in this endeavor. i want to thank chairman royce and engel who have the -- demonstrated the bipartisan nature, many of the challenges that we face and that standing together america, if nothing else, because we come from, you know, we are made up of every race, religion and ethnic group in the world. we're supposed to be the one that sets the standard for the world, and we can do that by making sure we don't cozy up to people and remain friends with people who are financing this type of atrocity. i'd like to -- look, it's a perplexing position because
people are being murdered in this part of the world. your friends, relatives, really, innocent, human beings are being savaged. should our focus be on trying to defeat and eliminate the evil forces that are at play or should it be to extract people from this danger zone to get them here? i wonder if any of you have any thoughts of than all of you, go right ahead. >> mr. congressman, i think the solution is to stop the conflict. we have a conflict in middle east, i'm talking about syria. we have a conflict. you're asking about who is paying isis they don't -- they took banks, they took -- they steal. they -- they do everything they
can to -- not to have to be dependent on anybody to get their money. we want to get rid of them, we have to end the conflict. there is a conflict in syria and people are suffering, and today we need to think about those civilians, how to stop their suffering. there are -- isis attacks every day, people are scared. i know many people there escaped, even if they're muslim, they escape because isis will threaten their lives. we want to stop isis we need to stop the conflict in syria. we need to stop the dictator. both are the enemies of the security and the safety and the future for syria. >> congressman rohrabacher, when i take a look at all of the religious minorities that i've met when i was in iraq and i look at their ancient history you know that they belong there
, and they want to stay there. and if we try to get rid of the problem by just bringing the religious minorities here -- >> yes. >> isis will spread everywhere. it will continue. right now we have a diverse fabric in the middle east and it's really protecting, not only the region, but the entire world. the fact that there are christians and yazidis and jews in that region today makes the middle east what it is. we need to look at the bigger fight and understand that isis is against the entire world. their short-term plan right now is trying to get rid of the religious minorities of the region and creating their state. >> right. >> but tomorrow it's going it to be attack the entire dana -- world. >> i think that your point is well made and i just -- i know that sister diana had trouble
even getting here. we should not be having barriers to people, especially coming here to make their case and to warn us. at the same time, i've got a few seconds left, let me say we need to make sure we are standing behind those people like our friends, the kurds, up in erbil who are making this stand. we can't -- we haven't solved that problem yet, mr. chairman, where our supplies can go directly to the kurds, some of them are now, but many of them we have to go through baghdad in order to get the supplies there. we should be making sure anyone in that region who is fighting isis gets the full support and direct support from the people of the united states. you are in our thoughts and prayers. we know that you're -- these communities, i visited a community in syria. my wife and i actually went and said it was one of our most
important experiences in our life where we said the lord's prayer as jesus spoke. hang tough. we are with you. >> brian higgins of new york. brian: thank you mr. chairman. i want to thank the panel here. your testimony is both eloquent and compelling. i just want to focus on the christian community in the middle east. isis has declared war on christians. isis wants genocide now. they want to eradicate christians from the middle east and africa. christian kids have been beheaded, their mothers raped, and their fathers crucified literally. isis believes christians are standing in the way of their world conquest, anything pre-islamic they want to destroy and want to prepare the world for the coming of the islamic heldly fate.
christians are losing communities that have lived peacefully for 2000 years. 500,000 christians, christian arabs driven out of syria during the last three years of civil war. christians have been persecuted and killed from lebanon to sudan, now south sudan. civil wars lasted decades. in iraq, mosul is a christian city, the second largest city in iraq, christians have been living there for 1700 years. as you know better than anybody. after the fall of saddam, the numbers in -- of christians in iraq were estimated to be 45,000. sister, today how many christians are living in moesle? >> very few. only those held hostage there. we don't have the exact number.
yet they are maybe a couple hundred or less. >> a hundred or less. most of those who have fled have moved up to kurdistan? sister: first of all, they fled to my hometown, and -- brian: hoyer? sister: it's -- which is close to mosul, about 20 minute distance southwest of mosul. brand: west. sister yeah. : after a week or so our displacement happened, which never thought that would happen with a couple hours that we were forced to leave which take -- it's about one-hour distance from my hometown to kurdistan. took us 11 hours to go there because some were marching, some were drivi because it was a traumatic stage for us. i would say like very few christians have stayed in mosul or that they couldn't leave because they were asleep when
that happened. brian: is the hope of the christians from mosul who have been forced to flee to one day return? sister: yes. the message that i was given before i left, they said to me i've been working every day with the idps -- that's what they call us, actually there -- they said to me, sister, just please tell the community, tell the members of the congress that help us to go back home, we want to go back home. brian: what has been the position of prime minister abody relative to the christian community of iraq? you don't need to say. i get it. yeah. this is, you know, we were told, after al maliki, who was a thug, left, that things would change
that the new iraqi government would be inclusive of all minorities in communities. political stability is dependent on the ability to embrace the kurds, the shia, the sunni, but also the christian community of iraq. so that's not happening, clearly. and this is just one of many consequences of the failure to embrace the minority community. this is again the larger problem in the middle east. it's a highly, highly pluralistic part of the world and unless and until you have minority rights you'll never have peace and stability. a guy like al assad is a bad guy. but what's happening is minority groups have a tendency to gravitate to him for one reason, because if the majority, sunni become head of the country, all
of the minorities will be slaughtered. so long as there is zero-sum game in the middle east, the sum will always be zero. and i often say in game theory there's also what's referred tos -- two as a variable sum game, saying there can be many winners. whatever we do there, however much humanitarian aid we provide there, however much military support we provide in the middle east, internally, the leadership that we get behind, the united states, the leadership that we support, have to embrace, they have an obligation to embrace the minority community because we'll be sitting here five years from now, ten years from now, 20 years from now, we'll be having the same discussion with no progress whatsoever. again, thank you very much for your testimony. i'll yield back. >> go now to mr. chris smith of new jersey. chris: inc. you very much mr. chairman.
-- inc. you very much mr. chairman. thank you for calling this very, very important hearing and our distinguished witnesses for your courage, for so effectively articulating the plight of these suffering minorities in the middle east, particularly christians. thank you for that. and all of those who are suffering at the hands of isis and people who are extremists. you know, i would like to ask a couple of questions. the human rights commission pointed out that the isis violence against christians and other religious minorities quote may constitute genocide. may? i find it extraordinary, you know, the genocide convention couldn't be clearer. eliminating in whole or in part, even the threat rises to the level of being genocide. and of course international community has always been slow to genocide. -- to recognize genocide. we didn't do it in -- when it came to sudan, 100 years later we still, only 24 or so countries have recognized the
armenian genocide. we seem to gag on the word, and i have tried to get administration witnesses to say what is happening to the christians rises to the level of genocide and that simply is not stated. congresswoman, chairwoman emeritus have chaired a number of hearings on the goen know -- genocide. we had one last year, genocide, attacks against christians and others in iraq. gone we get this, well we'll look into it we'll get back but say it, say it clearly and un unambiguously. i have chaired 14 hearings on the suffering of christians, particularly in the middle east, and we're still getting, you know, a lack of embrace of the magnitude and the hostility towards people of the christian faith. sometimes past is prologue. the clinton administration
opposed the international act. i held all of the hearings. he ended up signing it but now we find under this administration the post of ambassador at large was idle left vacant for half of his presidency. we have a very good man in that position, david staffer seen trying to make up i think for lost time. but it was a revelation of priorities that we did not have a person sitting in that very important position. approximately seven months ago legislation passed totally bipartisan, to establish a special envoy for religious minorities in the middle east and south central asia. no secret the administration didn't want it. but he did sign it.
the president did sign it into law when passed in a bipartisan way. but now for seven months nobody has been selected to take that position. that person should have the ear of the president and could shutting back and forth and assess what's go on on the ground with clarity and to speak out boldly. nobody has that position. i find that appalling. you might want to comment on that as well. finally, let me ask you the faith of the young people has to have been -- i know we saw that wonderful video of the resiliency of the young women. but the faith of the young people has to be shattered. you know they must wonder where are the faithful elsewhere particularly in the united states i don't think we've done enough. again, special envoy vacancy speaks volumes to that. but if i could ask you where is the faith of these young people? >> the matter of fact mr. smith, is that our faith, it's amazing that we see it's increasing more and more.
it it's making us more stronger. we left churches that were like used to be filled with people. now we have only one church and you see like young people, all people see that we still have faith in god, that we were displaced yet we feel that the hand of god is still with us. so in the midst of, as my colleague said, in the midst of this darkness, this suffering, we see a god that is holding us, holding us, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to be witnessing to our faith that's increasing day after day. i think this is one of the gifts of the holy spirit giving us the strength to continue our faith and to be strong, to stay in our country, some left, yes, but they are willing to come ba example. this is our christianity, to help others. that's why my my immediate family in damascus, but their faith is to pray for the poor, take care of others because this
>> congressman smith, i went to egypt and i met the families, 15 of the 21 families that were -- had victims, slaughtered in libya. i was astonished by their faith. as a fellow christian, i thought, how would i be if i was in the situation today? meeting the fathers, said to me, thank god that today they're in heaven. thank god, a wife talking to me about how her husband had said i'm going to libya, and i will be in danger, but if i don't make it, teach my children teach them the principles of jesus christ. these are the cans of their faith. i've seen it in iraq across the board, how christians and standing strong and helping all, helping the yazidis.
we had a indicatecase, there was a group of yazidis that found a local church, and that church was providing care for them, providing a home for them. this is what they're doing. they're struggling but giving everything that they have. so thank you. >> we go to mr. william keating of massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing. thank you, as witnesses. i want to let you know, we all share your commitment to saving living, saving religious and cultural heritages and artifacts, and stopping human trafficking. i want to acknowledge, as dr. hanson has, the legislation of chairman this area. but i want to focus on one thing. i believe that we can do more of
in the u.s. to stop this terrible -- these terrible actions by isil. and that's to look at an issue that time and time again has come to my attention as ranging member on terrorism, trade and nonproliferation, and this committee as well as counterterrorism and homeland security and that's the issue where isil is not only destroying cultural and religious heritages, particularly in iraq and syria but it's doubling down on that activity, either through tax criminals or themselves, they're trafficking in these looted antiquities and financing their own terrorist operations again. so it becomes cyclical. and i saw firsthand i just came back days ago, visiting eight countries in the middle east and europe how this is occurring and in fact, had comments from the leaders in these areas how smuggling in these anquities these terrorists. so what i am doing today as well as introducing legislation to
prevent trafficking and cultural property act, the name of legislation, it's geared in on one aspect i think we can ease lil move to thwart these activities and that's the fact that even the agencies themselves in customs and board patrol and in i.c. they're not as coordinated they don't have the tools to gear in on this when these artifacts and trafficking when the trafficking comes through our own border on the u.s. one of the things we have to do, i believe, wit the legislation does, to work to make sure there's principal leadership there, a designated person to
really key in on this. and also importantly, to have the training in this activity, because even if that commitment and coordination is there, it's important that these u.s. officials receive sufficient training and identifying cultural property from regions at the greatest risk of looting like iraq, syria, they know the techniques specifically related to this so they can investigate and prosecute this activity to really quell the demand. one of the destinations of the world, the united states of america. so, we're working on that. i would like your opinion on how from your perspective this could be helpful as well. and i think particularly dr. hanson has some experience in that regard. >> thank you. what you mentioned is incredibly important and it is vital that
we remove the financial incentive for terrorist group right now it's crucial that we market country our demand for that in the u.s. is some of what fuels isis' actions. >> yeah. i was really intrigued when isis -- it showed the videos of their desecrating these religious institutions and sending those videos to the world and saying they're doing it because of a sense of pureness and they're narrow if you call it religious beliefs -- should be the only beliefs. yet if these artifacts they're destroying so no one else will be able to culturally go forth if they're portable, they're moving them around and profiting on them and preserving them to fuel their on terrorism which shows where their priorities respect quickly, kneel thetell me the scope of this.
artifacts that come out of the ground can get financial benefits for them. you have to assume the lowest estimates have to be staggering. i can't give you an exact dollar amount and that's something that we're continuing to research and work on. >> i heard $37 million. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> mr. scott perry of pennsylvania. >> thank you mr. chairman. ladies, appreciate you being here. you know the stories are shocking to our conscience americans need to have their conscience unfortunately continue to be shocked because of what continues to happen. but the stories break our hearts. not much else to say than that. dr. hanson, we've seen isis crucify in public squares, stone to death women, throw gay people off of buildings, and proudly tweet, post these horrific acts on youtube, other social media. in fact, they've gained followers based on the use of social media.
the question is, has isis' propaganda campaign affected the disposition of religious minority communities beyond iraq and syria? and what effective action would you recommend the united states to combat isis, the propaganda especially on social media? have you researched that, and what are your recommendations? >> my research doesn't directly encompass social media. one of the things that we have noticed in working with the cultural heritage destruction and the religious heritage destruction is that the videos are clearly designed to demonstrate power and demonstrate terror. right now we have an nsf grant to study what's happening with damage -- with phenomenon of damage to cultural heritage and why it's occurring and we're working on answering some very
basic questions, like when does cultural heritage damage take place? is it before or after the religious minority population is physically threatened and murdered? when it comes to social media, what is happening with the videos is exactly the same thing that's happening with the videos of deaths and destructions. the cultural heritage site rbzing destroyed in a way to demonstrate power and terror. >> we'll wait to hear back from you based on the grant, if you have any recommendations. i'd like to turn to -- correction -- miss kabawat, is that right? we've been told by the administration that the u.s. government is examining all -- i emphasize all -- viable options for detecting minority vulnerable communities and halting the parade of atrocities isis is committing what happen do you view? you lived there on the ground. what is the viable options for
the u.s. to protect these communities, if there are any? >> again, mr. congressman, i feel on the ground, when they hear this kind of comment, the people get little bit disappointed and angry. we can't protect one minority without thinking about what happens happening to the whole country. we're talking about thousand of refugees, of christians but also there is millions of sunnis and they're paying the price from isis. so, the solution will be a package. we don't want to be isolated from the other syrian who we have been raised and lived with them all our lives. i want a solution not only for the minority, i want a solution for whole syria. we need to stop the conflict. so when we say we want to protect us, it's offending me
because i don't want to be protected when my other neighbors, sunni, has been unattack. so please protect the whole civilian. we have so many moderate muslim, christians, we live together all our lives. so if you want to protect us, as a christian, i'm asking you protect also my neighbors. thank you. >> sister diana, do you think that the isis targeting of minority communities in areas has primarily been due to strategic opportunity, because you're there and it's easy you're vulnerable, or is there something more deliberate? i mean, would you articulate if it's one or the other or a combination of the two?
>> as i mentioned earlier, mr. congressman, it was quite shock for us because we used to watch the news on tv that isis took over mosul, but we never thought someday in a few hours we'll be out of our homes, left with nothing at all. i, myself, only with my habit and my purse, which i was lucky i had my passport in it. most of my sisters and people left with no documents, nothing. so it start with the plane and it was a gradually. if it was deliberately or not, i can't say that but all what i know now we were driven out of our homes within a couple hours, that was. without any warning. >> my time's expired. thank you. >> we go now to mr. david sis leaney of rhode island. >> thank you for calling this hearing. thank you to our witnesses for your courageous testimony and the description of the horrors
and the violence and the sadistic behavior of this terrorist organization, i hope is something that the whole world understands better as a result of your being here today, significant personal risks yourself and the work that you're doing. thank you for being here. as my colleague from massachusetts said, i think our whole committee's committed to doing everything that we can to support the preservation of cultural and religious site. but more importantly in my view to do all that we can to protect and save lives. this effort to destroy cultural and religious sites, i think, is clearly an extension of the terrorist effort to eliminate entire religious communities in this region, something we have to respond to in the strongest terms. my first question is, i know there are religious minorities, christians, yazidis, faced terrible persecution and have fled their ancient homelands. but they're aunable unable to cross the border so they're technically refugees, they're internally displaced persons.
these are vulnerable population what happens can the united states be doing bettor help these communities that are trapped in very unsafe locations be in a safer place and provide some protection, these internally displaced what i would call refugees, even though they're not technically refugees because they haven't left the border of their oner own country, anyone in. >> mr. congressman, when i went to northern iraq and i met the kurdistan regional government, i was amazed the work they've done. not because of meetings i went to but because of the ground. i went and saw the girls kidnapped and raped by isis, for exampling and i saw the care they were getting. yes, the kurdistan regional government doesn't have a lot of resources but they're still doing everything that they can to make yazidis, like the girls that we met, christians, and all
other religious minorities feel like an equal. in fact, a lot of these workers have been unpaid for months at a time to give everything that they have to these religious minorities, shows that they are truly a safe haven. i've never seen a people like the kurdish people because they have gone through their own atrocities so many times, they understand what it's like to be a religious minority fleeing. so i say the solution is to support, number one, the peshmerga army who is the ones on the front lines and boots on the ground, let's help them as they fight this war, let's support them in any way. help the kurdistan government providing providing humanitarian assistance with psychological care. when i was in jordan, i remember a little boy and u.n. secretary-general bondan ki-moon flown over and said, do you see that helicopter? i said, yeah. he said i hope to god it bombs jordan.
i was shocked. i said, why would you say something like that? because it happened to me. it has to happen to everyone else. a lot of the children that are coming in to these territories have seen so much destruction and trauma and they don't how to how to deal with it. in order to protect the world we need to focus on the new generation and how do we do that? by supporting the kurdistan regional government as they work on not just the medical care but that psychological element as well. and of course, the support of the partners like egypt and jordan, also bringing in refugees and taking care of their people. in egypt alone, they're educating 14,000 college students from syria. and thousands of, about 40,000
students in elementary schools are being taken care of. let's support them on the ground. >> i was just in jordan and saw at border and the syrian borden the incredible work of the jordanians, you know, supporting over 1.5 million refugees fleeing syria. we have to be sure that we continue to support that. miss kabawat? >> again mr. congressman, i emphasize about the solution of the protected zone. we need it. i've been also in jordan last month. it's so important to start thinking about this. we need to get the civilian in a safe way, in a safe area, that can be protected from the isis and from the bomb of the syrian regimes. we need it. this will give better position for turkey and jordan so they can take care of other things. we thanks to the american for all of the humanitarian aid they're give together syrian people. we appreciate it. we know that you're doing a lot.
but they really need to be in a safe zone. so i really asking you and seeking this, it's so important. thank you. >> mr. chairman, if i might ask indull against for one final quep i question. the role of the current iraqi government, you know, there are many people who argue that isis is an outgrowth of policies from iraqi and syrian governments that have marginalized sunnis in particular. what do we need to see from the current iraqi government or a future syrian government to demonstrate the tolerance and inclusiveness that will prevent this kind of violence? should the united states be doing more to condition some of our support for the iraqi government on their commitment to take certain steps to protect minority populations and bill a more inclusive government? i mean, that's -- you know, the syrian solution is the long-term answer. but in this interim period, can we be doing more to demand more of the current iraqi government?
>> mr. congressman, i think it's very important to do such things previous to your question, i mean, we are known as idps. we will be like that forever if we don't return home. so if there is efforts from both parts to help us to return home i think that will be the solution. with your help, you know. so that will give us a better life. otherwise there will be no education and it's not about the education and health care because that won't happen when you're an idp. you don't have an identity or any entity there. our entity is back where we belong. so i think there are efforts from both parts to return home there where we can start to rebuild, there where we can start all over again. thank you. >> regarding syria and you're talking about long-term, we need
to think about a few things. first, we need a transition not to destroy the institutions. and this will happen only if we have a political solution. we need to pressure the regime to come to the negotiation table and make a -- we need a transition and we need to include everybody. and everything will be good if we can end it within a political solutions. this is a long term, and this is the best way to protect minorities, to save the institutions, and have a transitions government include everybody. >> thank you. >> if i could inject here. you're suggesting to get there you need no-fly zone, safe zone, over aleppo and the other areas where in aleppo, for example the business community, the
sunni and christian and alawite business community is trying to hole out there, but they have isis on the front line but then intermittently the barrel bombs and the chemical attacks occur from the assad regime, which are dropped on the city that's trying to trying to hold out against isis so you're saying you believe if there was a no-fly zone there and there was a prohibition from the dropping of the barrel bombs that would help civil society take a foothold there and could you explain that thinking to me? >> sure. i did witness the barrel bomb when i was in aleppo, and it's very, very hard for the civil society to grow went there's an
immediate threat to your life. yes, i'm not a military expert but i believe that we need to stop the bombs. this is a first step for the community, for everybody. >> you think also that in doing that, it helps drive a -- >> the civil -- >> an impetus for a settlement? >> exactly. >> because then they can see that the society can't be overrun there? >> and we did, there is so many example before from the local council they could run the community, and they can include the christians. >> i've note tisd,ices i've seen christian female battalions among the free syrian force there, as well as sunni and you know, i've talked to alawite business community alouite supporting the effort there in aleppo to hold on.
>> we need to have a safe place for this community. once we start the barrel bombs then support the oppositions in all the way we can, we get an example in other local -- as a witness, they knew that i'm christian and been working with the civil society and i know in syria what you see in sectarian zone now, it's a reaction because of all that happened. but in the end of the day, in the community we live together the minute that the toll will stop, the syrian people can continue to live and live together. >> thank you. i want to thank all of the witnesses for moving and insightful testimony here today. isis is in fact conducting a war against religious minorities against tolerance and as you
shared against civilization. an i want to thank our panelists for bringing the voice of persecuted, the voice of the christian yazidis and others here today and the committee has long been focused on the robust -- humanitarian response and legislation that we have on the florida house thank you for supporting that legislation today. and i think your appeals for safe zones longer to returned to your homes has given us new facts to consider and now i think to consider with an indelible human face. so sister, thank you and to all of the panelists, thank you very much for being with us. we stand adjourned. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.
videos of his activities on the space station and shares scientific and personal aspects of life in space. >> the link, ever felt a shiver of fear go down my back -- the only time i ever felt a shiver of fear go down my back was looking at australia and watching a shooting star come in between me and the earth. first i had the standard reaction of wishing upon a star. then i had the sobering realization that wasn't just a huge, dumb rock that missed us. and made a step -- made it down to the atmosphere. if it had hit us, we would have been dead in an instant. pack sunday night on q&a.
>> tonight the house voted for a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in cases of rape or in says. here is the bill -- or incensst. here is the bill. >> i yield such time. pore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. goodlatte: since the supreme court's decision in roe versus wade, medical knowledge regarding the development of unborn babies and their capacities at various stages of growth has advanced dramatically. to give you a sense of how much technology has advanced, here's the issue of the "new york times" announcing the roe versus wade decision in 1973. it contains ads for the latest in advanced technology, including a computer the size of a file cabinet you could rent for $3,000 a month that only had
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