June 18, 2020

Chairman Risch: America Will Continue to Support the Aspirations of the Syrian People

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, provided the following remarks during a virtual event titled “Protecting Syrian Civilians: Implementing the Caesar Act” hosted by the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in cooperation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force. The event focused on the implementation of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act.

“Hi, I’m Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“It’s my sincere honor to join you today. 

“It is only fitting that today’s event takes place in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This museum is dedicated to ensuring that the atrocities of the Holocaust never happen again. “Never again” has become our watchword.

“Unfortunately, Syria confronts us with the horrific reality that mass murder and torture are not just things of the past.  

“Indeed, over the course of this nine-year long war, Syria’s brutal dictator, Bashar Al-Assad, has demonstrated that he will do anything to cling to power, including murder his own people.  

“Assad, with the help of Russia and Iran, commits unforgivable human rights abuses, including indiscriminate bombing, deliberate targeting of medical facilities, the use of chemical weapons, and the use of starvation as a weapon. 

“Against the backdrop of this violence, more than 100,000 Syrians have perished in Assad’s prisons under inhumane conditions – brutalized, starved, and tortured. 

“Indeed, the sheer magnitude and suffering of the Syrian civil war is difficult to put into context. Even the UN stopped keeping track of deaths in 2016. Yet Syrians are still dying.

“What is clear, however, is that we have a moral responsibility to prevent genocide, and to promote accountability and justice.

“To Assad, we say “never again.” At great risk to himself and his family, that is precisely what Caesar did.

“What started as one man’s heroic efforts to show the world Assad’s atrocities has led to a powerful tool to hold Assad and his criminal backers accountable.

“I give my thanks to our House colleagues and the State Department for their partnership and tenacity on the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. Passage of this legislation was a top priority for me, and to be here today to discuss its implementation is very gratifying.

“To those considering rehabilitating the Assad regime, this new law sends an unmistakable signal that the political path forward in Syria cannot pass through Assad – he is a pariah. 

“All nations must recommit to a ceasefire, continued work on the constitutional committee, and free elections as outlined under Security Council Resolution 2254.

“The Syrian people deserve better than Assad. America will continue to support the aspirations of the Syrian people.

“Thanks for allowing me to be with you today and thank you for your efforts to keep attention on the plight of the Syrian people.”

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act has been a priority for Chairman Risch since he took to the Senate floor in December 2018 to ask for the Senate to give unanimous consent on its passage. Since taking over as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2019, Risch has held two full committee hearings on the Syrian civil war and its effects on the Syrian people.

 

(Left: Chairman Risch and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) preside over a hearing titled “Nine Years of Brutality: Assad's Campaign Against the Syrian People” on March 11, 2020.

Right: Mr. Omar Alshogre, director of detainee issues for the Syrian Emergency Task Force, and Mr. Raed Al Saleh, head of the Syria Civil Defence (White Helmets), testify at the March 11 hearing.)

To watch Senator Risch’s remark on YouTube, click here.

To download the video file, click here.

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