ANCA National Board Member Outlines Importance of Just Resolution for Armenian Genocide

ANCA National Board member Aida Dimejian addresses IDC conference
ANCA National Board member Aida Dimejian addresses IDC conference

ANCA National Board member Aida Dimejian addresses IDC conference

ANCA National Board Member Aida Dimejian at U.S. Capitol: “After Years of Failed Efforts to Appease Ankara, it’s Time to Try a New Approach”

WASHINGTON—Armenian National Committee of America National Board Member Aida Dimejian joined over 35 U.S. Senators and Representatives and top faith-based and human rights leaders in calling for concrete U.S. steps to safeguard Christian communities in the Middle East and ending U.S. complicity in Turkey’s Armenian Genocide denial.

“I stand before you as a grandchild of genocide survivors. I stand before you as someone who was born in the Middle East – Beirut, Lebanon. And I stand before you as the daughter-in-law of a Christian Armenian family who fled their home from Aleppo, Syria fearing torture and persecution because of our faith,” Dimejian told participants of the In Defense of Christians (IDC) National Advocacy Convention, gathered at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium on the September 8th.

“The mass persecution and extermination of Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in the Middle East today is a religiously and ethnically motivated genocide.”

Noting that the Armenian nation has been battling genocide and its denial for over a century, Dimejian outlined why it is essential for Congress to adopt the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution (H.Res.154) – spearheaded by Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), and Frank Pallone (D-NJ), explaining that its passage would help:

— Make the world safer from future atrocities, by breaking the dangerous precedent set by Turkey of a known case of genocide committed, consolidated, and denied with impunity.

— Make Turkey more tolerant, by openly and honestly addressing the modern-day consequences of its past crimes – much as America has sought to atone for slavery and Germany has attempted to reckon with its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide.

— Secure a sustainable improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations – a long term U.S. regional interest – based upon a foundation of truth and justice.

— Strengthen America’s international standing, by ending a shameful era of U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.

“Consistent with our core American belief in freedom of expression, America should reject any attempts by Ankara to impose a gag-rule on honest discourse about the Armenian Genocide,” continued Dimejian. “In pursuit of our national interest in improving ties between Armenians and Turks, respectful relations between Yerevan and Ankara, and a more tolerant and pluralist Turkey, U.S. diplomacy should press for an end to Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.”

The third annual IDC National Advocacy Convention, titled “Beyond Genocide: Preserving Christianity in the Middle East,” was cosponsored by the ANCA, Philos Project, and Institute for Global Engagement and supported by many other DC-based and grassroots organizations.

Remarks by ANCA National Board Member Aida Dimejian
At the In Defense of Christians National Advocacy Convention
September 8, 2016

I stand before you as a grandchild of genocide survivors. I stand before you as someone who was born in the Middle East – Beirut, Lebanon. And I stand before you as the daughter-in-law of a Christian Armenian family who fled their home from Aleppo, Syria fearing torture and persecution because of their faith. The mass persecution and extermination of Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in the Middle East today is a religiously and ethnically motivated genocide.

We are honored to join with In Defense of Christians in calling upon our government to prioritize policies and programs to safeguard and promote the welfare of Christian communities across the Middle East.

We have – as you all know – been fighting this battle for well over a century.

Prior to the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the territory of modern-day Turkey was home to a large, ancient, and indigenous Christian population, comprised of millions of Armenians, Greeks, Pontians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and other Christian peoples. Today, as a direct result of genocide, Christians account for less than 0.1% of Turkey’s population. Today, as a direct result of genocide, Christians account for less than 0.1% of Turkey’s population.

As a result of the state-ordered and implemented campaign of genocide – known to our Assyrian brothers and sisters as Seyfo – the Ottoman Empire killed well over 1,500,000 Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and other Christian men, women, and children, exiling these nations from their historic homelands. Many of the victims were killed because they would not renounce their Christian faith.

The Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution (H. Res. 154) – spearheaded by Representatives Robert Dold, Adam Schiff, David Valadao, and Frank Pallone – represents a principled and practical approach to honoring America’s moral stand against genocide and advancing our nation’s interest in improved Armenian-Turkish relations through a truthful and just international resolution of the Armenian Genocide.

After years of failed efforts to appease Ankara, it’s time to try a new approach – an American approach – one that rejects foreign gag-rules, openly embraces the historical truth, and reflects our values as a nation.

Consistent with our core American belief in freedom of expression, America should reject any attempts by Ankara to impose a gag-rule on honest discourse about the Armenian Genocide. In pursuit of our national interest in improving ties between Armenians and Turks, respectful relations between Yerevan and Ankara, and a more tolerant and pluralist Turkey, U.S. diplomacy should press for an end to Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Morally, it is wrong for the American people to serve as an accomplice in the Turkish government’s campaign to cover up the murder of over 1.5 million people. Moreover, President Obama has identified genocide prevention as a “core national security interest and core moral responsibility” of the United States. Yet, out of fear of Turkish retribution, the President uses euphemistic language to sanitize the brutality of the genocide. As Americans, we should never outsource our nation’s foreign policy – or our morality – to Turkey or any other nation. It serves neither our values nor our long term interests.

Our longstanding U.S. goal of constructive and sustainable relations between Armenians and Turks cannot be accomplished without overcoming Ankara’s denials, and justly and comprehensively addressing the modern-day consequences of the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey, by coming to terms with the Armenian Genocide, will remove a source of regional tension, lessening the level of distrust and opening the door to the normalization of relations with Armenia.

Turkey’s effort to deny the Armenian Genocide also seeks to erase a proud chapter in American history, including: American Red Cross Founder Clara Barton’s relief mission to help the Armenian victims of Ottoman massacres; U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau’s courageous protests to the Ottoman Turkish government during the Armenian Genocide; and the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson to help the survivors of the Genocide through the congressionally mandated Near East Relief organization.

Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide has set a dangerous precedent that makes future genocides more likely. Adolf Hitler, before invading Poland, silenced the potential reservations of his generals by asking: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Successful U.S. advocacy for the truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide will:

— Make the world safer from future atrocities, by breaking the dangerous precedent set by Turkey of a known case of genocide committed, consolidated, and denied with impunity.

— Make Turkey more tolerant, by openly and honestly addressing the modern-day consequences of its past crimes – much as America has sought to atone for slavery and Germany has attempted to reckon with its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide.

— Secure a sustainable improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations – a long term U.S. regional interest – based upon a foundation of truth and justice.

— Strengthen America’s international standing, by ending a shameful era of U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Rejecting Ankara’s Armenian Genocide gag-rule will send a powerful signal that no nation wields a veto against America’s core commitment to human rights and genocide prevention. It will, as well, serve as a watershed moment in U.S. foreign policy – representing a break from narrowly defined policy of appeasement to a broader, more robust and sustainable international approach aligned with the American people’s core commitment to human rights and religious freedom.

As John F. Kennedy once said, “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” We cannot remain silent. We must speak out, act, condemn and hold accountable all those who violate human rights and commit crimes against humanity. For our silence can only imply our complicity.

Authors

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

3 Comments

    • Raffi said:

      The world is not Israel, there are honest countries on this planet and life beyond Israel.

*

Top