- As Delivered –

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks at a House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee commemorative event, “Inside Syria’s Torture Machine:”

“I want to you thank the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for hosting us.  I want to thank you all for joining us.

“This is a somber milestone.  So many of us hoped we would never see this day—or any of the anniversaries that have come and gone since this tragic war began six long years ago.  It’s almost unbelievable.

“We know that the end of this crisis will be difficult to reach, but not impossible.  And, what we cannot allow to happen—any of us—is for the passage of time to make us numb to the ongoing suffering.  We need to do whatever it takes to remind ourselves of the tragic human cost of this war, and of our moral obligation to work toward a resolution.

“My most recent reminder came earlier this month when I visited the refugee portal—portal at the Holocaust Museum.  Speaking face-to-face, in a sense, with those refugees, Syrian refugees that were in Berlin. 

“I could feel the bond of our shared humanity, and I was overwhelmed by the sense of hope:  the belief that a better, bright future was just over the horizon.  We all share a duty to help them achieve that future.  And we have our part to play.

“As a lawmaker, my role is to keep pushing for policies that would crack down on the Assad regime and its enablers, the Russians and whoever else, for their campaign of carnage. 

“Tomorrow, I will reintroduce the Caesar Civilian, Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act.  I thank Chairman Royce for working with me in that regard.  The legislation is named for Caesar, who defected so he could show the world the extent of Assad’s brutality. 

“When he came before the Foreign Affairs Committee three years ago, I emerged from there really sullen and disgusted, but with the feeling of we can cannot let this happen again.

“And it was a great, a great, he was a great statesman to take these photos and to smuggle them out so we can all see them.  We’ve seen the horrific photos of the, the Holocaust, and I haven’t seen anything that reminded me of that as much as the picture of the dead bodies and the atrocities committed in Syria.

“So Caesar’s another person who reminds us that we cannot grow complacent in the face of this tragedy.  What Caesar showed us shook me to the core.  Those images are seared in my mind and on my soul.  And I know every one of you feels the same way.

“Again, when you see the images of the Holocaust in the 1940s and the images of Syria in the 21st century, one can just get chilled to think that, what has humanity learned all these years?

“We used to think things couldn’t happen here or any place else, and now we see we were really wrong.  That less good people, people of good will get together and stand up in places like the Holocaust Museum.  We’re able to show people what’s really happening, these things can happen again.

“You look at votes, you look at elections being held now on the continent of Europe.  The same elements, the same autocratic elements that we saw during World War II.  And we see today in Syria and in other places are rearing its ugly head.  So, it’s important that all of us stand up and say, ‘No, we’re not going to be complacent.  We’re not going to allow it.’

“So the hard work is to make sure everyone else has that clarity.  We need to keep making the case that it’s not too late to act, that we cannot allow this tragedy to continue, that again, we cannot be numb and say ‘well, there’s nothing we can do.’

“There’s plenty that we can do, and I thank you for being here because you’re all a part of it.  We, as legislators, are going to push forward until this horrific war ends and those responsible are brought to justice. Thank you.”