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Upcoming Hearings

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Hearing
Confronting the Genocide of Religious Minorities: A Way Forward

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
1334 Longworth House Office Building

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on ISIL’s genocide against religious minorities and a review of options for the United States and the international community to address this historic challenge.

In June 2014, forces of the so-called “Islamic State” captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Tens of thousands of Christian residents fled the city, and eventually the surrounding areas of the Ninevah Plain, for fear that ISIL forces would capture or kill them. Many of those who remained were subjected to rape, torture and kidnappings, or were killed. Hundreds of Christian homes, businesses, and churches and Shi’a shrines were destroyed or converted to military outposts and mosques. Two months later, in August 2014, ISIL militants assaulted religious minority communities in the Sinjar and Tal Afar districts of Iraq, killing Yezidis, Assyrian Christians, Shi’a Muslims, and others. ISIL destroyed religious sites, executed hundreds of Yezidi men and women, and kidnapped and sold women and girls into sexual slavery. These horrific incidents of mass murder and destruction represent only a small portion of the atrocities ISIL and its affiliates, as well as government security forces, have committed in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.

On March 14th, the Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, along with 391 other members of Congress, voted to condemn ISIL’s actions as genocide. On March 17th, Secretary of State John Kerry concurred with this designation, stating “the fact is that Daesh [an Arabic acronym for ISIL] kills Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; Shia because they are Shia.”

This hearing will present information on ISIL’s atrocities in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere and explore potential steps that the United States and international community can take after the U.S. genocide designation. The hearing also will seek to explore concrete options within and outside of the framework of existing international institutions.

Panel I:
State Department Representative (TBD)
Panel II:
Dr. Robert P. George, Chairman, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Panel III:
Congressman Frank R. Wolf, Distinguished Senior Fellow, 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative
Carl Anderson, Current Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus
Douglas Irvin-Erickson, Ph.D., Fellow of Peacemaking Practice and Director of the Genocide Prevention Program, George Mason University

This hearing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public and the media. For any questions, please contact Isaac Six (for Rep. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or, or Kimberly.Stanton (for Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or


Joseph R. Pitts, M.C. James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chair, TLHRC Co-Chair, TLHRC



Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Briefing Series on Syria

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
2255 Rayburn House Office Building

To mark the five-year anniversary of the conflict in Syria, please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for an update from regional experts on the complex humanitarian situation in Syria and recommendations on how the international community can most effectively support civilians impacted by the conflict.

In 1951, the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees became the first international agreement to detail the fundamental rights and freedoms of a refugee. The Convention, to which 145 nations are currently states parties, strongly emphasizes the need for international cooperation to address refugee crises.

Today, we are witnessing the largest global displacement and refugee crisis since World War II. According to UNHCR, every day during 2014 on average 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced, a four-fold increase in just four years. One in every 122 people has been forced to flee their home and the total number of people forced to flee may have exceeded 60 million by the end of 2015. Since early 2011, the single largest driver of mass displacement has been the war in Syria.

With these staggering trends, it becomes increasingly important for the international community to prioritize a peaceful solution to the crisis of our generation. At this briefing, panelists will discuss the importance of international humanitarian law and how the U.S. can further engage on the protection of civilians in Syria. This briefing will also provide up-to-date details on the challenges that civilians face inside Syria, including the implications of the recent ceasefire agreement and humanitarian access into besieged areas.

Wynn Flaten, Syria Crisis Response Director, World Vision
Francis Charles, Syria Crisis Response Advocacy Director, World Vision
Erin A. Weir, Senior Policy and Advocacy Advisor, NGO Forum (a body composed of 52 international and Syrian humanitarian organizations currently operating in northern Syria)
Opening Remarks:
• Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Co-Chair, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
This briefing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public and the media. For any questions, please contact Isaac Six (for Rep. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or or Kimberly Stanton (for Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or



Dwight Bashir, Acting Co-Director for Policy and Research, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Director, The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers – Washington, DC Office
Dr. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland

Hosted by:
The Senate Human Rights Caucus
Co-Chairs Senator Chris Coons and Senator Mark Kirk
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
Co-Chairs Congressman James P. McGovern and Congressman Joseph R. Pitts

The rise of radical jihadi groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram are challenging perceptions of Islam both within the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and internationally. This briefing will examine the views and opinions of Muslim populations living amidst radical groups, and identify ways international actors and policymakers can support those voices seeking to counter radicalism and support human rights, rule of law and religious freedom.

Please RVSP at