Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch Introduce Resolution Condemning Iran’s Human Rights Violations, Persecution of Baha’is
(Washington, DC) - U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, introduced H.Res. 274, condemning Iran’s human rights violations, particularly its persecution of its Baha’i minority, and urging the administration to impose sanctions against the Iranian regime for its human rights abuses. Joining Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch in introducing the resolution were U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), and Brad Schneider (D-IL). A companion resolution was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), John Boozman (R-AK), and Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Iran’s despicable human rights record is only getting worse as its compromised elections approach next month. Despite the propaganda portraying Rouhani as a ‘reformer,’ executions and crackdowns on political opponents and minorities in Iran have increased in recent years. The regime’s repression of its 300,000-plus Baha’i minority is particularly abhorrent as Baha’i men and women face daily harassment, arbitrary arrest, and denial of education and employment. Baha’is are not allowed to assemble or worship freely, Baha’i cemeteries are regularly vandalized, and 90 Baha’is remain in prison for their beliefs. The regime’s human rights practices are indicative of its untrustworthiness and should be an integral component of U.S. security policy toward Iran. I urge the administration to use all available authorities to the fullest extent possible in order to sanction the Iranian regime for its human rights abuses.”
Statement by Deutch:
“The Iranian regime perpetrates some of the most egregious human rights abuses against its own people, including denying them freedom of religion, persecuting minorities like the Baha’i, and imprisoning LGBT people. The United States must continue to stand squarely against these violations of basic human rights, including by strictly applying and enforcing existing sanctions and strengthening punishments for offenders. This resolution sends a strong statement to the abusive regime that its treatment of the Baha’i, its unjust repression and persecution of Iranians, and its imprisonment of U.S. and other foreign nationals will be met with a strong response.”
Ros-Lehtinen Welcomes News That Allianz Has Ended Sponsorship of PGA Tour Event in Boca Raton
“Today will mark the beginning of a renewed effort for all of the next steps the survivors need - we can no longer sit idly by and allow these survivors to continue to be victimized and denied their day in court”
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement regarding the end of Allianz’s sponsorship of the PGA Tour event in Boca Raton. For years, Ros-Lehtinen has called on the PGA Tour to end its partnership with Allianz until the insurance conglomerate accepts its responsibility for its actions during the Holocaust and its continued denial of justice to Holocaust survivors. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“The end of Allianz’s sponsorship of the PGA Tour’s Boca Raton tournament is welcome, but long overdue news. For the past seven years, I have echoed the concerns of Holocaust survivors who have rightly protested against this sponsorship. Allianz has a despicable record of its treatment of Holocaust survivors, having sold tens of thousands of insurance policies to Jewish families before WWII only to reject those claims using cruel tactics and demanding death certificates and policy documents they knew could not be provided. That is why, earlier this year, I reintroduced the bipartisan Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act to ensure survivors and their families the ability to bring their cases before the U.S. court system and seek redress from these companies.
“It’s fitting that the survivors are marking Allianz’s departure on Yom HaShoah, when we honor the six million Jews who were murdered and we recommit to never forget them or the unparalleled crimes of the German Nazi regime. But we must also recommit ourselves to ensuring that survivors get the justice that has for over seven decades evaded them. Today will mark the beginning of a renewed effort for all of the next steps the survivors need - we can no longer sit idly by and allow these survivors to continue to be victimized and denied their day in court.”
Ros-Lehtinen, Engel, Yoho, and Sherman Introduce North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs made the following statements after introducing H.R. 2061, the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017, alongside U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Under Kim Jong Un’s brutal regime, North Koreans continue to be exploited and trafficked in the regime’s harsh labor system while dissidents are sent to work camps and subjected to starvation and torture. Without rule of law, justice, or freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly, North Koreans live in constant fear of arrest, disappearance, and execution. As the Kim regime’s dangerous behavior increases, it is also essential that we promote North Korean human rights as an integral part of addressing the North Korean security threat. Instead of seeking to promote the well-being of its citizens, the regime in Pyongyang pours all of its available resources into illicit activity like its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation alongside Eliot, Ted, and Brad, which seeks to strengthen ongoing efforts to promote human rights in North Korea, provide desperately needed information to those inside, and protect refugees fleeing the regime.”
Statement by Engel:
“The Kim Regime in North Korea gives us no shortage of concerns, from its pursuit of illegal nuclear and conventional weapons, including ballistic missiles, to the alleged use of banned chemical weapons in a major regional airport. But we should never lose sight of another major problem: the Kim regime’s crimes against the rights and dignity of their own people. The people of North Korea have suffered immeasurably under the oppression of the Kim family. This measure, which authorizes support for North Korean refugees, would send a signal to all the people of North Korea that we see their suffering and our doors are open.”
NOTE: H.R. 2061, the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017, will extend until 2022 the authorities of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which were last reauthorized and strengthened in a 2012 law also authored by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. The bill continues current authorities for North Korea-focused activities to promote human rights and democracy, refugee protection, and freedom of information (including broadcasting), as well as the U.S. Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues. It also continues reporting aimed at increasing transparency and accountability for any food aid provided to North Korea.
Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch Condemn Syrian Chemical Attack and Russian Obstruction at UN
(Washington) Today, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) and Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), respectively the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, delivered a letter to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley urging for a strong response by the Security Council to the horrific and criminal use of chemical weapons by Syria's Assad against innocent civilians:
“Assad’s repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria is barbaric and unconscionable," said Chairman Ros-Lehtinen. "I join my colleague in applauding Ambassador Haley for her strong condemnation of this brutal act at the Security Council and for her willingness to call out Russia and Iran for their culpability in perpetuating this tragedy. For over six years, we have seen horrifying images and the Syrian people have endured the unthinkable, yet these nations prevented any meaningful international response. The time for America to lead is now - we must hold those who impede a solution accountable and we must lead a response that ensures Assad is removed from power so that he cannot continue to murder at will innocent Syrians.”
“The awful images of babies gasping for air will not quickly leave our memories," said Ranking Member Deutch. "Assad’s inhumanity has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of lives displaced, and far too many tragedies. It is unconscionable for these actions to go unpunished by the international community. Yet, time after time, Russia obstructs any meaningful global action against Assad, instead continuing to enable this dictator to slaughter more innocent civilians. We cannot turn a blind eye to this tragedy. I join with my colleague in urging our leadership at the United Nations to continue to push for action.”
The letter can be found here and read below:
Dear Madam Ambassador,
We write today to express our horror at the chemical weapons attack in Syria on April 4, 2017.
This devastating attack took the lives of nearly 80 people, including dozens of children, and injured hundreds more in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. We are heartbroken for the innocent lives that were taken yesterday. This tragedy reminds us of the over 1,400 people killed in a chemical attack in Ghouta, Syria nearly four years ago and the hundreds of thousands of victims that have been killed throughout this awful war.
The images coming from Syria over the past 24 hours are difficult to watch: children choking and gasping for air; the few remaining doctors in Idlib province scrambling to administer treatment in battered hospitals and clinics; and hundreds of civilians drowning on dry land with searing pain in their eyes, suffering from the telltale injuries of a Sarin gas attack.
We cannot allow ourselves to look away from these horrors. We cannot let the Syrian people believe that we are blind to the innate dignity of their lives. We cannot let the world move past this atrocity without our leadership and action.
The use of chemical weapons is a war crime. Moreover, this attack is evidence that the Assad regime has violated the international agreement that initiated the removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile four years ago.
We commend your swift action to convene an emergency session of the UN Security Council and your work in coordination with our allies France and the United Kingdom to introduce a resolution condemning this brutal attack. We are dismayed that, even when it comes to the condemnation of the horrific use of chemical weapons on children, Russia obstructs the timely passage of the resolution. It will be unconscionable if Russia continues to further block this important effort. There is simply no excuse for the global community’s failure to generate a strong, unified rebuke of Assad’s slaughter of his own people.
It is far past time for meaningful international action to save the lives of innocent Syrians. The United States has a moral responsibility to lead the response when this sort of humanitarian devastation continues unabated year after year. We urge you to continue to press for action at the Security Council, and to hold those member states who continue to block such action accountable.
2206 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
I am proud to represent Florida’s 27th Congressional District, a diverse area which includes Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Hialeah, Key Biscayne, Little Havana, Miami, Pinecrest, South Miami, and Westchester.
I was born in Havana, Cuba on July 1952. At the age of eight, my family and I were forced to flee from the oppressive communist regime of Fidel Castro. We settled in Miami and put down permanent roots in our community. I attended Southside Elementary School in Little Havana, West Miami Junior High, and Southwest High School. In the years following, I earned an Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade Community College in 1972, Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education from Florida International University in 1975 and 1985 respectively, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Miami in 2004. I consider education a lifelong journey.
I began my career as a Florida certified teacher. I also founded and served as the principal and teacher of a private bilingual elementary school in Hialeah. I was inspired to enter public service by many of the parents and students; to fight on their behalf for a stronger educational system, lower taxes, and a brighter economic future.
In 1982 I was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives and the Florida Senate in 1986, becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in either body. In the state legislature I authored the Florida Prepaid College Plan, which is now the largest pre paid college tuition program in the nation. More than one million Florida families have used this program to send their children to college.
I was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989– the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress–following a special election to fill the seat held by the late Claude Pepper. I have been strongly returned to Congress since, winning 60% of the vote in 2012.
To this day, I remain committed to improving the lives of my constituents and our beautiful South Florida community. As the economy remains a pressing issue, I support reducing taxes and cutting back unnecessary government spending. I also support plans to balance the federal budget and increase tax incentives for small businesses and middle class families. South Florida has also felt the devastating effects of the housing crisis. I have fought to end predatory lending practices by mortgage companies and extend the first time homebuyers tax credit.
Given my background in education, I have worked to strengthen the Head Start program. I have also supported legislation to increase the availability to student financial aid and revise the cumbersome and complicated Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) process.
I am a strong advocate of programs that address the serious problem of domestic violence against women. I was a lead sponsor of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which increases resources towards the prosecution of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault. I also support legislation to increase criminal penalties for perpetrators of Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud is a deplorable practice which robs hardworking seniors of the benefits they spent a lifetime earning, while also wasting billions in taxpayer dollars.
As the wife of a Vietnam veteran and step-mother to Marine aviators, I am passionate about improving our nation’s military, safeguarding veteran’s health care, and ensuring that returning veterans have access to a college education. I have been an outspoken critic of the Miami VA’s recent failures to notify veterans who were at risk of infection, due to contaminated colonoscopy equipment. I also authored legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). These women pioneers had been denied recognition for their service during World War II.
I am Chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and am now Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. In this role, I continue to voice my strong support for the state of Israel and human rights, including my opposition to Castro’s dictatorial regime in Cuba. I have also led on pressing foreign policy issues including the fight against Islamist extremism, and support of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
I also serve as a member of the House Committee on Rules. This Committee decides what legislation makes it to the House floor and its members are chosen by the Speaker of the House. My priorities as a member of this Committee is to get our nation’s economy back on track and ensure passage of legislation that betters the state of our nation.
I am the proud wife to Dexter Lehtinen, mother and step-mother to 4 adult children, and grandmother to two beautiful baby girls – Morgan Elizabeth and Caroline Grace.