ANCA WR Responds to Speaker Hastert Statement

GLENDALE–The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region. issued an announcement Monday–rebutting an October 23 statement by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)–who called for an "investigation" of the "truth" regarding the Armenian Genocide.

Below is the text of that announcement:

US House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert–in a second statement released by his office in as many as eight days–has once again attempted to justify and explain away his broken pledge of bringing the Armenian Genocide Resolution to a floor vote in the House of Representatives. Using offensive euphemisms and language reminiscent of denial rhetoric–the Speaker of the House of Representatives added insult to injury by characterizing the Armenian Genocide as the "tragic events of 1915" and called upon the State Department to help investigate the "truth" of "those troubled years."

Speaker Hastert’s statement further reinforces the perception in the Armenian American community that his promise to bring forward the Armenian Genocide Resolution to a vote in the House–was never based on sincere motivations and it further casts under a cloud of doubt the course undertaken by the Speaker in dealing with this resolution.

When following Speaker Hastert’s August 29–2000 pledge to bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution to a vote–the ANCA-WR issued a statement urging the Speaker to immediately bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution to a vote–without subjecting the legislation to an unnecessarily prolonged and drawn out committee process–he did not do so.

When on September 12–2000–House democratic leaders Sam Gedjenson–Richard Gephardt and Frank Pallone–Jr. wrote Speaker Hastert informing him that they were pleased to learn of the Speaker’s pledge to bring the resolution to a vote–they said–"?we urge you to schedule H.Res.398 for immediate House floor consideration?We therefore implore you to avoid further delay or the possible derailment of this legislation." Speaker Hastert paid no attention–and continued putting the legislation into the slowest possible track. It is this unwillingness by the Speaker to honor his word that has led the Armenian American community to question his true motives and intentions.

Furthermore–neither the Speaker’s earlier statement nor his most recent press release include the word "genocide," except when referring to the actual "Armenian Genocide Resolution." The Speaker instead refers indirectly to the Armenian Genocide using evasive language–such as "those troubled years," and the "tragic events of 1915." Such euphemistic denial rhetoric certainly puts into question Speaker Hastert’s understanding of the gravity of the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of US complicity in Turkey’s denial. In adding to this unacceptable language and even more troubling is the Speaker’s statement that both he and Congressman James Rogan think that an investigation is needed to determine the facts of the Armenian Genocide.

The facts of the Armenian Genocide are clear and indisputable. The historical truth of the Armenian Genocide does not require an investigation–particularly one involving the State Department and the government of Turkey. Let this be clear.

Speaker Hastert has yet to answer the questions looming over his conduct on this matter. Instead of doing so–he has continued to issue statemen’s–which not only evade the issue and blame third parties for his unwillingness to keep his pledge–but they also offend the sensibilities of good Americans–by questioning the true facts of the Armenian Genocide.

With newly-found delay tactics such as waiting until "the Turkish Government and the Armenian Government have not found a satisfactory way to get the full truth of what happened during those troubled years-on the record," Speaker Hastert seems to be continuing on the same prolonged path. Speaker Hastert needs to return to the 27th Congressional District and make a firm commitment to the Armenian American community to bring this resolution to a vote in the next session of the US Congress.

Speaker Hastert cannot expect to regain our community’s trust–if he continues to issue statemen’s such as the October 23–2000 statement. And the Speaker certainly should not expect the Armenian American community to reelect Congressman James Rogan–without giving his expressed and unequivocal commitment to the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution next year.

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