Schiff Issues Announcement on Genocide Resolution

GLENDALE–State Senator Adam Schiff–who is the Democratic candidate for the 27th Congressional district–issued an announcement expressing his severe disappointment at the US House of Representative’s failure to address the Armenian Genocide resolution–which was pulled from the legislative scheduled momen’s before a scheduled deliberation by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)

Below is the complete text of that announcement.

The Failure of HR 596 and US Policy towards Turkey

By State Senator Adam Schiff

I am deeply disappointed and offended by the actions of US House Speaker Dennis Hastert and the House Republican Leadership in failing to bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution up for a vote on the House floor–year after year.

The Speaker and Jim Rogan had promised–here in the 27th District–to bring this resolution to the House floor. The decision to delay consideration of the Resolution until the final weeks of the session–and then kill it without a vote–was in the final analysis–theirs alone. They bear the responsibility for their actions.

The Speaker–and Jim Rogan in caving in to the Turkish Government campaign of lies–threats–and blackmail against this resolution–have allowed a foreign nation to dictate to the US Congress which issues can be debated by the elected representatives of the American people. This is shameful. The Turkish government–which imprisons more journalists than any other nation and which is regularly cited by the State Department for the widespread torture of its own citizens–should not be allowed to enforce a "gag rule" on the American people.

The government in Ankara has–in the days since the Speaker withdrew the resolution–heralded its powerful grip over the American government. Despite these claims and their victory in keeping this resolution from a final vote–the Turkish government does not – and should never – hold veto power over our democratic system of government. Too many generations of Americans have sacrificed for our rights and freedoms to surrender them now at the alter of a foreign government.

At the same time–I believe that the Administration also bears a heavy responsibility in this matter. Instead of caving in to pressure from a Turkish government–the Administration should have flatly rejected these threats.

I am a proud Democrat–but will not make excuses for any official–of either party–who betrays the trust of the Armenian American community. I am committed to working across party lines – like David Bonior and George Radanovich – to advance Armenian American issues. I have a proven track record of getting results at the state level and look forward to bringing the same leadership–energy and results to the Congress.

As a state senator I led the fight to prevent the University of California from accepting funds from the Turkish Government to create Pro-Turkish history programs. I helped secure close to half a million dollars for the Armenian Film Foundation to finish an important documentary–which preserved for history the testimonial of the last remaining survivors of the genocide. And– I co-authored legislation to allow Genocide victims and their families to pursue insurance claims in California Courts without being time-barred.

I believe that if we are to address the question of the Armenian Genocide effectively it will have to be done in the context of a fundamental reevaluation of our nation’s relationship with Turkey. I am not satisfied that the relationship as it exists today serves either US interests or American values. Why is it that our government – the representatives of the American people – has for so long turned a blind eye to Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide–blockade of US humanitarian aid to Armenia–military occupation of Cyprus–violent abuses against the Kurds–restrictions on Christian communities–and worsening human rights record. Why have we–the most powerful nation in the world–allowed ourselves to be bullied by the Turkish government? It is–in my judgment–because we have chosen a policy of appeasement–refusing–for more than five decades to hold Turkey accountable for adhering to even the most basic standards of international conduct–human rights.

I am committed to breaking this cycle so that we do not need to fight for simple recognition of what is an established fact–the Armenian Genocide. So that we will not have to tolerate blatant violations of international law–like Turkey’s blockade of Armenia. So that we will not have to hear reports of Turkish-supplied weapons being stockpiled by the Azerbaijani military for future use against Nagorno Karabakh.

Most importantly–we must break the cycle because it best serves our long term national interest and is most consistent with the values that has made our country great.

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