US House Adopts Schiff Amendment on Armenian Genocide

"None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Government of Turkey to engage in contravention of section 1913 of title 18–United States Code–relating to lobbying with appropriated moneys–with respect to HRes 193–Reaffirming support of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and anticipating the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987 (the Proxmire Act) on November 4–2003."

–Amendment to Foreign Operations Bill prohibiting Turkey from using US foreign aid to lobby against Genocide Resolution

–Rep. Knollenberg’s Leadership key to maintaining military aid parity for Armenia and Azerbaijan

WASHINGTON–DC–In a powerful rebuke to the Turkish government’s campaign of genocide denial–the House of Representatives this evening adopted the Schiff Amendment–prohibiting the Turkish government from using US foreign assistance in its multi-million dollar campaign to defeat legislation (HRes 193) recognizing the Armenian Genocide–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The amendment–introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)–was passed by a voice vote and added to the fiscal year 2005 foreign aid bill (HRes 4818). The foreign aid bill was later passed by a vote of 365 to 41.

In his remarks on the House floor introducing the measure–Rep. Schiff told his colleagues that–"today I offer a simple amendment that will honor the one and a half million Armenia’s who perished in the Armenian Genocide of the 1915 and 1923. I consider this a sacred obligation to ensure that the men–women–and children who perished in the Armenian Genocide are not lost to history and that this Congress not fund shameful efforts to deny that the Genocide occurred." Commenting after the vote–Rep. Schiff said–"We are another step closer to silencing those who would deny the murder of 1.5 million Armenia’s," adding that–"This amendment stands true to the memory of the victims."

"The passage of this amendment is a major victory," said Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone–Jr. "It clearly sends a message that the United States House of Representatives will not tolerate Turkey’s lobbying against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide." In his remarks during consideration of the measure–the New Jersey legislator stressed that "it is time for this body to stop defending and funding a government that continues to deny its own history–and refuses to break with the pattern of intolerance established by past Turkish governmen’s which dealt with minority issues by committing genocide against Armenia’s–massacring and driving Greeks from its shores–restricting the rights of Christians to worship–and denying the existence of its Kurdish citizens."

"We want–first and foremost–to thank Congressman Schiff for his tireless leadership in advancing this amendment–to recognize the strong support of Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg–and to note the pivotal role that Chairman Kolbe played in helping this measure reach the House floor–where–as we all saw this evening–it enjoyed overwhelming bi-partisan support," said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian.

The Genocide Resolution–HRes 193–reaffirms US support for the Genocide Convention and cites the importance of remembering past crimes against humanity–including the Armenian Genocide–Holocaust–Cambodian and Rwandan genocides–in an effort to stop future atrocities. It faces intense opposition from the Turkish government–which has enlisted the backing of the White House in its efforts to block this measure from being scheduled for a vote of the full House.

The Genocide Resolution was introduced–in the House–in April–2003–by Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI). Its Senate companion measure was introduced–in June–2003–by Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ). HRes 193 was adopted unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee last May. Support for the measure has been widespread off of Capitol Hill as well–with a diverse coalition of over 100 ethnic–religious–civil and human rights organizations calling for its passage–including American Values–National Organization of Women–Sons of Italy–NAACP–Union of Orthodox Rabbis–and the National Council of La Raza. Rep. Knollenberg Leads Effort on Foreign Aid Issues:

Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Joe Knollenberg–who serves as a senior member of the House panel dealing with foreign aid issues–rallied the support of his colleagues behind key pro-Armenian provisions in the Foreign Operations bill. Foremost among these was the successful effort to maintain parity in US military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan. This February–the Administration’s budget proposed breaking the parity agreement–struck in 2001 between the White House and the Congress–by allocating $8 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Azerbaijan and only $2 million for Armenia. The foreign aid bill–adopted today by the US House–sets FMF levels for both nations at $5 million.

"We value the leadership and hard work by Congressman Knollenberg in maintaining the principle of military aid parity in the face of White House and Pentagon pressure to break an agreement that has–for the past three years–contributed meaningfully to regional stability in the Caucasus," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

The House Foreign Operations Subcommittee–which is chaired by Arizona Republican Jim Kolbe–supported a hard earmark of $65 million in US assistance to Armenia–and $5 million for Mountainous Karabagh. The Bush Administration’s proposal had requested $62 million for Armenia and had not set any specific funding level for Mountainous Karabagh. The Subcommittee’s decision–made against the backdrop of decreasing aid levels to the former Soviet republics–would effectively reduce US assistance to Armenia by $10 million from FY 2004 levels.

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