Armenian Americans Outraged by Congressional Leadership’s Opposition to Genocide Amendment

WE CHALLENGE THE CURRENT REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP IN CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT BUSH TO HEED THE ADVICE OF ANOTHER GREAT REPUBLICAN–PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT–WHO IN 1918 WARNED THAT "?THE FAILURE TO DEAL RADICALLY WITH THE TURKISH HORROR [ARMENIAN GENOCIDE] MEANS THAT ALL TALK OF GUARANTEEING THE FUTURE PEACE OF THE WORLD IS MISCHIEVOUS NONSENSE," says ANCA -Western Region in statement LOS ANGELES–The western region headquarters of the nation’s largest Armenian-American public affairs organization issued a statement denouncing Congressional Leadership’s commen’s last week that claims an amendment acknowledging the Armenian Genocide is "meaningless." The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) criticized Congressional Leaders for capitulating to the deman’s of a foreign nation–the Republic of Turkey that opposes the amendment.

The backdrop to this controversy has been a stalled resolution (H.Res.193) calling for the United States to reaffirm its commitment to the United Nations Genocide Convention. That Convention was backed strongly by the late President Ronald Reagan. Recognizing that the House Leadership was stalling consideration of the bill (which had been passed by the House Judiciary Committee last year unanimously)–Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) on July 15–2004 introduced and successfully added an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that would prohibit the Turkish government from using American aid to lobby against the Genocide Resolution.

After passage of the Schiff Amendment–the House Republican Leadership–led by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL)–Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO)–issued a strongly worded joint statement opposing the Amendment. The statement also cited the President’s opposition to the Amendment and expressed the intentions of the Leadership to remove the Amendment in conference committee. In addition to attacking the Schiff Amendment–the House Leadership stated that HR 193 would not be scheduled for a Floor Vote.

The public statement defending Turkey in the face of 89 years of denial of the Armenian Genocide has drawn outrage and protest from Armenian-American community leaders residing in the Western United States. ANCA-WR Director of Government Relations–Armen Carapetian–explained that by opposing the Schiff Amendment–instead of standing up to deniers of genocide and historical revisionists–the United States Congress is allowing future genocides to take place.

"The tragedy unfolding in Darfur–where the Sudanese government is committing a genocide against its own people–is a direct result of the denial of the Armenian Genocide. The inaction by the US Congress to properly commemorate previous genocides–like the one against the Armenia’s–has resulted in maniacal despots–like those in Sudan–committing crimes against humanity time and again," Carapetian remarked.

The ANCA-WR has organized a massive grassroots petition collection drive targeting Congressional Leadership offices. The petition drive will compliment the ANCA Genocide Prevention Postcard Campaign which was launched last year. The postcard campaign has flooded Congressional offices with tens of thousands of messages in support of H.Res.193. and its Senate counterpart–S.Res.164.

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