WASHINGTON—The lead authors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.304, Robert Dold (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), are leading a bipartisan effort to secure Congressional signatures on a letter urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to renounce her recent public mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide as a “historical debate,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
A “Dear Colleague letter” currently being circulated by Representatives Schiff and Dold calls upon their colleagues in the U.S. House to join with them in co-signing a letter “asking Secretary Clinton to “disavow” her “historical debate” remarks, which she made at a public Town Hall meeting, and properly recognize the Armenian Genocide. The two legislators stressed in this correspondence that the “historical debate” argument has long been a talking point pushed by the Government of Turkey and other genocide deniers, who seek to muddy the waters by claiming that we in Congress must stay our hand in order to avoid undermining history’s settling of the truth. This is an intellectually unsupportable argument. There is no historical debate about the nature of the slaughter of the Armenian people – in fact Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word “genocide,” was thinking of the Armenians when he created the term – and our own National Archives contain all the documentary evidence that Secretary Clinton could ever need.” They also noted that: “By embracing the idea of an historical debate, the Secretary has taken a position at odds with her past positions and the positions of President Obama and Vice-President Biden. It is a position much closer to that of the Turkish government than that of any other senior U.S. diplomat in recent memory and it undermines our efforts to focus attention on genocides and other mass human rights violations elsewhere.
The letter to Secretary Clinton notes that her, “historically inaccurate description of the Armenian Genocide as an open question, in addition to the offense it represents to Armenian Americans and other victims of genocide, provides American encouragement to the Republic of Turkey in its shameful campaign of denial.” It also reminds the Secretary that in 2006 she joined with President Obama – then a U.S. Senator – in writing a letter explaining to President Bush that the Armenian Genocide was a “systematic and deliberate campaign of genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. . . The victims of the Genocide deserve our remembrance and their rightful place in history. . . .It is in the best interests of our nation and the entire global community to remember the past and learn from these crimes against humanity to ensure that they are never repeated. The sign-on letter also quotes Senator Clinton’s public statement in 2008 when, as a Senator and candidate for the presidency, she affirmed that: “[T]he horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide,” and that “[o]ur common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.”