Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of House Concurrent Resolution 415, introduced by my colleague from Illinois, Mr. Kirk.
H. Con. Res. 415 condemns the repression of the Iranian Baha'i community and calls for their emancipation. This resolution notes the long-standing concern by Congress for the protection and status of religious minorities in Iran.
The resolution requests that the President call for the Government of Iran to emancipate the Baha'i community and guarantee them basic freedoms in accordance with international and human rights standards and obligations. It emphasizes that Iran's treatment of religious minorities and human rights practices are a significant consideration for the U.S. in formulating our policy toward the Iranian regime.
The Baha'i faith originated in Iran during the 19th century, and their community is one of the largest minorities in religion in Iran. The current government recognizes them as not in true keeping with the faith of the Iranian regime. They are not allowed to practice their faith, and they are further undermined by their inability to maintain contact with Baha'is living abroad.
Baha'is are discriminated against in nearly every sector of Iranian society. In October of 2005, the text of a secret Iranian Government document calling for the identity and monitoring of all Baha'is living in Iran became public. According to Human Rights Watch, Madam Speaker, the anti-Baha'i letter came amid a campaign in the state-run press that began 1 year ago.
Madam Speaker, I recommend that all interested parties who want to learn more about the plight of religious minorities in Iran read the recently released ``International Religious Freedom Report'' published by our Department of State. This report reaffirms the brutal and oppressive nature of the regime in Tehran. The persecution of the Iranian Baha'is is but one grim example in point.
Madam Speaker, as a cosponsor of this resolution, I strongly support the passage of House Concurrent Resolution 415, and I ask my colleagues to vote ``yes.''
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. [Page: H6679]
Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution. First, I would like to congratulate my good friend and colleague, Congressman Mark Kirk, for his leadership and strong voice in the defense of Baha'i communities all over the world. I am proud to be the original Democratic cosponsor of this important resolution.
The Baha'is are Iran's largest religious minority, but because the Baha'i faith is not one of the four religions recognized by the Iran Constitution, Baha'i do not have rights under Iranian law. Iranian courts have ruled that people who injure or kill Baha'is are not liable for damages because the Baha'is are ``unprotected infidels.'' The absurdity of the statement that they are ``unprotected infidels'' says a great deal about this regime.
Congress has long recognized the plight of this suffering community. Since 1982, we have passed eight resolutions condemning the treatment of the Baha'i in Iran. On March 28 of this year, the White House expressed concern for a worsening situation of the Baha'i in Iran and called on the Government of Iran to respect the religious freedom of its minorities.
Madam Speaker, the situation of the Baha'i in Iran has deteriorated dramatically over the past year with an increase in arbitrary arrests, raids on private homes and imprisonments, a defamation campaign in the government-sponsored press and the continued denial of access to higher education to young men and women of the Baha'i faith.
Iran must grant the Baha'i their full human rights, as this resolution makes crystal clear. Our resolution calls on the Government of Iran simply to grant Baha'i the rights guaranteed by international law. Iran, Madam Speaker, is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and several other human rights treaties, but it is obvious that Tehran has no more intention of observing the requirements of these agreements than it does the nuclear agreements it has signed.
The international community must not be mocked. It must hold Iran to those standards to which it has voluntarily committed itself. In fact, Iran's contempt for basic human rights standards knows no bounds. Earlier this year, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard and the police force to identify Baha'is and collect information on their activities. This is particularly worrisome in light of the Iranian Government's view of the Baha'is as non-persons.
The Anti-Defamation League has called this order ``reminiscent of the laws imposed on European Jews in the 1930s by Nazi Germany.'' Our resolution rightly highlights this order, which was revealed by the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Madam Speaker, the U.S. Congress needs to speak out strongly against these policies. We cannot stand by quietly as another pogrom against the Baha'is is quietly being prepared by the bigoted regime of Iran. We and the international community must put Iran on notice that such action is utterly intolerable.
Madam Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to support this important resolution
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my good friend from Illinois for his most gracious comments, and I am pleased to yield as much time as he might consume to our colleague and my good friend from Ohio (Mr. Kucinich).
Mr. KUCINICH. Madam Speaker, I want to thank Mr. Lantos for his undying commitment to human rights. It was you and Mrs. Lantos who worked to see a Human Rights Caucus created, and you have kept these issues in front of the Congress, and I salute you for that.
I also salute my colleague Ms. Ros-Lehtinen for her commitment to human rights. I think it is important that we always bring these issues before the House.
But I think it is also important to relate to Members of Congress the context in which this resolution is occurring and to look back over the last 4 years at a similar context. [Page: H6680]
The Baha'is in Iran certainly deserve to have a full according of their rights. As a matter of fact, this House has passed eight resolutions that condemns Iran for persecuting the Baha'i faith. At the same time, the House has not passed any resolutions condemning any other Nation for the persecution of the Baha'is.
The 2006 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has identified three nations that persecute the Baha'i faith: Iran, Iraq and Egypt. I have quotes here that I would like to submit for the RECORD that establishes in each case, of Iran, Egypt and Iraq, the objections out of the 2006 annual report. This 2006 annual report also highlights concerns with the treatment of the Baha'i faith in China, Eritrea, Laos and Belarus.
I think it is important to note that the Baha'i faith is one which celebrates peace and human unity. That is why it is significant for us to always defend any religion which is trying to work for peace.
It is, therefore, paradoxical that this resolution is being offered at a time when some in the administration are on a path towards war against Iran.
I would like to submit for the RECORD a copy of the current issue from Time magazine which says: ``What Would War Look Like?'' We are talking about war with Iran, and it says, ``A flurry of military maneuvers in the Middle East increases speculation that conflict with Iran is no longer quite so unthinkable.'' This particular article out of Time magazine is very significant. The Navy has said that there is a submarine, a cruiser missile, mine sweepers and mine hunters that are prepared
to deploy to the Persian Gulf. It is very serious. A naval blockade of Iran would be an act of war, and if we started with that, Iran would surely escalate.
There have been independent reports published in the New Yorker magazine and the Guardian that U.S. military personnel have been or are already deployed inside and around Iran gathering intelligence and targeting information, and there are reports published in Newsweek, ABC News and GQ magazine that the U.S. has been planning and is now recruiting members of MEK, a paramilitary group inside of Iran, to conduct lethal operations and destabilizing operations inside Iran. I submit articles from
the New Yorker, from an antiwar.com Web site, from the Weekly Standard with regard to those facts.
Our Director of National Intelligence has said that Iran is a long way away from having a nuclear capability, 5 to 10 years, and that assumes that they are working around the clock, something that has not been proffered. We should keep in mind that last week, according to the Washington Post, the U.N. inspectors are disputing an Iran report by a House staff of the House Intelligence Committee which, according to the comment to the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, was ``false, misleading
and unsubstantiated.'' I have here a copy of the letter from the IAEA to the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence with respect to misleading and false information that was included in a staff report that is being circulated around Congress, and I submit it for the RECORD.
I have a copy of a letter from myself to Christopher Shays, he is the chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, which asks for an accounting by the Director of National Intelligence, who was supposed to be charged with the responsibility of reviewing this particular staff report before it reached publication. I submit this for the RECORD.
I have a copy of a Washington Post article which characterizes the U.N. inspectors' dispute with Iran or the U.N. inspector disputing the Iran report by the House panel.
Why am I submitting all this in the context of a resolution that has to do with standing up for the rights of the Baha'i to practice their faith? Because, once again, the Baha'i would not want this resolution to be used as part of a series of steps to encourage an attack on Iran. I can state that with certainty, knowing the Baha'i religion as I do, and yet we are seeing a series of steps, covert operations affecting Iran, preparation of bombing targets having already occurred, preparations for
a naval blockade. I mean, this all points to the United States moving in a direction of attacking Iran. That is antithetical to the spirit of the Baha'i faith, which we are here today to stand up for.
There will be other resolutions that will relate to Iran which will be on the floor of the House this afternoon, and I expect to be speaking to those as well.
I want to say that, as the Speaker may be aware, it was 4 years ago I warned this House that the administration was taking steps to take this country to war against Iraq, and they had not made their case, and we actually went to war against Iraq based on false pretenses.
I am once again stating to the people of this Congress that we ought to be very careful about these series of initiatives which this administration is putting forth at this time so that we have to be aware that if they are making a case for war based on these resolutions, we should be very careful about what our intention is in passing these resolutions.
I want to thank the gentleman from California for the opportunity to point out these matters relevant to Iran.