Virginia Legislature Adopts Genocide Bill

* Legislation criticizes Turkey for ongoing campaign to "deny and distort the facts of the Genocide."

RICHMOND–Va.–The Virginia House of Delegates has unanimously passed a resolution Thursday commemorating the Armenian Genocide and calling attention to the ever-expanding Turkish government campaign to deny the atrocity which claimed the lives of over 1.5 million Armenia’s–reported the Armenian National Committee of Virginia. House Joint Resolution 298–spearheaded by Henrico County delegate Eric Cantor and Warrenton delegate Jay Katzen–designates April 24–2000 as "Virginia Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923"

"We would like to thank Delegates Cantor and Katzen for leading the effort in the House of Delegates to properly commemorate the Armenian Genocide in Virginia," stated ANC of Richmond Chairman Murad Kerneklian. "The unanimous passage of this bill speaks to the broad based bipartisan commitment by Delegates throughout the state to remember the Armenian Genocide and ensure that such atrocities are not repeated."

Noting that the "Armenian Genocide and massacres of the Armenian people have been recognized as an attempt to eliminate all traces of a thriving and noble civilization more than 3,000 years old," House Joint Resolution 298 calls special attention to "revisionists [who] still inexplicably deny the existence of these horrific events."

The bill specifically cites the continued campaign of denial led by the Turkish government–which has spent millions in establishing Turkish studies programs in major US universities in an attempt to white-wash past atrocities. The legislation stipulates that copies of HR 298 be sent to Virginia Governor Gilmore–the Virginia Congressional delegation and the Armenian National Committee of Virginia for proper distribution. The ANC chapters in Northern Virginia and Richmond coordinated efforts to ensure passage of the resolution.

In a related matter–the Virginia House of Delegates also passed House Joint Resolution 127 yesterday–designating March 25–2000 as Greek Independence Day in Virginia–marking the day in 1821 when Greece began its "struggle for independence from nearly four centuries of political domination by the Ottoman Empire."

The text of the Armenian Genocide Resolution–adopted Thursday with 97 delegates in favor–0 against and 3 not-voting–follows.

Whereas–one and one-half million men–women–and children of Armenian descent were victims of the brutal genocide perpetrated by the Turkish Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923; and

Whereas–the Armenian genocide and massacres of the Armenian people have been recognized as an attempt to eliminate all traces of a thriving and noble civilization more than 3,000 years old; and

Whereas–to this day–revisionists still inexplicably deny the existence of these horrific events; and

Whereas–modern Turkey continues to deny and distort the facts of the genocide and honors the perpetrators of that crime against humanity as national heroes; and

Whereas–before the implementation of the Jewish holocaust–in order to encourage his followers–Adolph Hitler asked–"Who remembers the Armenia’s?"; and

Whereas–by consistently remembering and openly condemning the atrocities committed against the Armenia’s–Virginians are highly sensitive to the need for constant vigilance to prevent similar atrocities in the future; and

Whereas–the Armenian people have not received reparations for their losses; and

Whereas–recognition of the 85th anniversary of this genocide is crucial to ensuring against future genocide by educating people about past horrors; and

Whereas–Armenia is now a free and independent republic–having embraced democracy following nearly 70 years of oppressive Soviet domination; and

Whereas–Armenian-Americans living in Virginia have greatly enriched the Commonwealth through their leadership in business–agriculture–academia–government–and the arts; now–therefore–be it

Resolved by the House of Delegates–the Senate concurring–That the General Assembly designate April 24–2000–as Virginia Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923; and–be it

Resolved Further–That the Clerk of the House of Delegates transmit copies of this resolution to the Governor of Virginia–the Virginia congressional delegation–and the Armenian National Committee of Virginia for appropriate distribution.

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