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- As Delivered –

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following statement in support of a resolution condemning the violence and persecution in Chechnya (H.Res.351) on the House floor:

“[Mr. Speaker], I rise in support of this measure and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

“Let me first thank my colleagues on the Foreign Affairs Committee, particularly Ms. Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Mr. Cicilline of Rhode Island, for their work on this measure and their leadership supporting LGBT communities around the world.  I also want to thank Chairman Royce for his support of this resolution.

“Mr. Speaker, day after day we hear new reports of abuse of LGBT individuals in Chechnya.  This spring, authorities rounded up hundreds of gay men.  Some were tortured.  Some were murdered.  Reports from civil society and activists tell us that Chechen authorities have rounded up LGBT individuals, beaten them, tortured them with electric shocks, and outed them to their families in the perverse hope of provoking so-called ‘honor killings.’

“This is horrific.

“And let’s not forget: Chechnya is part of Russia, as the Chairman said.  These crimes—this disregard for human rights and human dignity—lie at the feet of Vladimir Putin and his crony in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.

“No one anywhere should face violence, persecution, or death because of who they love.

“’Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,’ as Hillary Clinton said when she was Secretary of State.  But under Putin’s rule, those rights are a myth.

“So I was disappointed when Secretary Tillerson testified before the Foreign Affairs Committee about whether those atrocities were on the agenda with his Russian counterparts.  ‘These are on the pending list,’ he told us.

“The United States should never put basic human rights on the ‘pending list.’  Unless we shed a light on these abuses and demand that they be stopped, we are betraying our most fundamental values.

“So today, I’m glad the House, in a bipartisan way, is speaking out to condemn this violence and persecution, to stand up for the freedoms of assembly and expression, and to say that we believe that LGBT rights are human rights that must be protected around the world.

“I’m glad to support this measure.  Again I want to thank our Chairman Ed Royce, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and David Cicilline  I reserve the balance of my time.”