Judiciary Committee Passes Genocide Resolution

"THIS IS A HUGE VICTORY! A UNANIMOUS VOTE BY THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE TO PASS THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RESOLUTION IS A HUMAN RIGHTS TRIUMPH. THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES MAY BE FINALLY ON ITS WAY TOWARDS RECOGNIZING THE SLAUGHTER OF 1.5 MILLION ARMENIANS FOR WHAT IT WAS: GENOCIDE." –Rep. Adam Schiff

WASHINGTON–DC– The full House Judiciary Committee today approved legislation–introduced by Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI)–marking the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the UN Genocide Convention–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

The vote on this measure–which specifically cites the Armenian Genocide as an instance of past genocide–opens the door to full House consideration of the initiative. The decision to bring H.Res.193 to a vote on the House floor now rests with the senior House leadership. The measure has been cosponsored by over 100 US Representatives.

"We want to express our appreciation to Chairman Sensenbrenner–Ranking Member Conyers–the members of the Judiciary Committee–and the authors of H.Res.193 for taking this important step today toward adoption of H.Res.193," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Working together–as a community that has experienced the horrific consequences of genocide–we will continue to support efforts in Congress to move this legislation toward passage–and help ensure that the lessons of the Armenian Genocide–and all past genocides–are used to prevent similar atrocities in the future."

Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (D-WI) opened the consideration of H.Res.193–noting former Wisconsin Senator Bill Proxmire’s (D) thirty-year campaign to gain ratification and later implementation of the Genocide Convention in 1988. "The enactment of the implementation of the [UN Genocide Convention] 15 years ago made clear the commitment of the United States to the provisions of the Convention–this country’s acknowledgment of the Holocaust and other genocides throughout history and our promise to do all we can to prevent future genocides. I urge my colleagues to support the resolution," stated Chairman Sensenbrenner–who is a cosponsor of the legislation. Ranking Committee Democrat John Conyers (D-MI)–who has been outspoken in his support for the initiative–warned against efforts to erase references to the Armenian Genocide. Chairman Sensenbrenner concurred noting that he would "strongly oppose any amendment that would strike mention of the Armenian Genocide."

Genocide Resolution sponsor and Judiciary Committee member Adam Schiff (D-CA) noted the importance of the Genocide Convention and specifically efforts to reaffirm and Armenian Genocide as well as well as other genocides in this legislation. "This is extraordinarily important not only for the Armenian community but for the international community that we do not equivocate about the loss of 1.5 million lives," explained Rep. Schiff. Following passage of the measure–Rep. Schiff noted: "This is a huge victory! A unanimous vote by the House Judiciary Committee to pass the Armenian Genocide resolution is a human rights triumph. The Congress of the United States may be finally on its way towards recognizing the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenia’s for what it was: genocide."

Since taking office in 2000–Rep. Schiff has actively pursed the full recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States. Schiff has urged his House colleagues each year to recognize the Armenian Genocide and he spearheaded a letter this spring to President Bush requesting that he honor his campaign pledge to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide.

H.Res.193 marks the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of Genocide Convention–and calls on the United States to learn from the lessons of past genocides–including the Holocaust–as well as the Armenian–Cambodian and Rwandan genocides–to prevent future atrocities. On the Judiciary Committee’s passage of the measure–lead cosponsor George Radanovich stated: "I welcome today’s Committee action as a meaningful step toward ensuring that the noble aims of the Genocide Convention and the painful lessons of past genocides will help to prevent future crimes against humanity. In the coming days and weeks I will continue to work with my House colleagues to see this legislation adopted by the full House of Representatives."

TURKISH AMBASSADOR AND LOBBYISTS SOUGHT TO REMOVE REFERENCE TO ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

In the days leading up to today’s Judiciary Committee vote on H.Res.193–Turkish Ambassador Faruk Logoglu and lead Turkish lobbyist Bob Livingston sought to divert this legislation into a vehicle of Armenian Genocide denial. Specifically–they attempted to erase reference to the Armenian Genocide from the legislation text. In a letter to Judiciary Committee members–Logoglu argued that "the veracity of the Armenian Genocide has always been highly questionable. . . The Armenian allegations have–to this date–never been historically or legally been substantiated beyond reasonable doubt." He continued noting that–"reference to the so-called ‘Armenian Genocide’ in H.Res.193 will cause severe disappointment and indignation in Turkey. This in turn will invariably have negative consequences for Turkey-US relations." The ANCA sent a point-by-point response of the Ambassador’s letter to Committee members yesterday evening. Armenian Ambassador to the US Arman Kirakossian contacted Committee members to respond to the Turkish Ambassador’s false claims and to set the record straight on the facts of the Armenian Genocide. Congressional sources have affirmed that Logoglu and Livingston had held a series of meetings with Judiciary Committee members–in an effort to have an amendment striking the Armenian Genocide language from the bill. However–no such amendment was offered during consideration of the measure.

ARMENIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY RALLIES IN SUPPORT OF H.RES.193

Since announcement of the Judiciary Committee mark-up late Tuesday evening–Armenian Americans from across the country began a phone call campaign to key Committee members–urging them to support the legislation without amendmen’s. Since its introduction in April–the legislation has enjoyed the support of all major Armenian American organizations in the US including: the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics (New York–NY)–Armenia Fund USA (New York–NY)–Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council (San Francisco–CA)–Armenian Assembly of America (Washington–DC)–Armenian Bar Association (Los Angeles–CA)–Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (Paramus–NJ)–Armenian Evangelical World Council (Paramus–NJ)–Armenian General Benevolent Union (New York–NY)–Armenian Missionary Association of America (Paramus–NJ)–Armenian National Committee of America (Washington–DC)–Armenian Relief Society (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Armenian Youth Federation (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church – East (New York–NY)–Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church – West (Burbank–CA)–Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural Organization (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Knights of Vartan (New York–NY)–National Organization of Republican Armenia’s (Washington–DC)–Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – East (New York–NY)–Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – West (Glendale–CA)–Tekeyan Cultural Association (Watertown–MA)–United Armenia Fund (Glendale–CA). The legislation has also garnered the support of a diverse group of civil and human rights organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)–the Sons of Italy–and the American Hellenic Institute–among others.

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