Warwick Mayor Urges Speaker to Remove Roadblocks to Genocide Recognition

PROVIDENCE–Warwick–Rhode Island Mayor Scott Avedisian last week sent a letter to Speaker of the United States House of Representatives J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) encouraging him to reconsider his public opposition to the House Genocide Resolution (H.Res.193) and the Schiff Amendment–reported the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Rhode Island.

"On behalf of the Armenian American community in Rhode Island–I wanted to thank Mayor Avedisian for once again taking the lead in working toward US recognition of the Armenian Genocide," said ANC of Rhode Island chairman Steve Mesrobian. "Mayor Avedisian–as highly-regarded mayor of our state’s second largest city–is a powerful voice for our community–a tremendous role model of public service for our youth–and a rising star with a bright future on the national stage. We look forward to supporting his efforts to secure justice in the months and years to come."

In his letter to the Speaker–Mayor Avedisian noted–"We believe that it is important for the United States Congress to state publicly that the Government of Turkey should not use US funds to lobby against the Genocide Resolution. If the Government of Turkey is not currently using US foreign aid funds for such lobbying activity–then the [Schiff] amendment will not affect Ankara’s use of funds appropriated in the bill."

The letter went on to state–"We also urge you to reconsider your pledge not to schedule H.Res.193 for consideration by the House of Representatives. In 2000 you promised Armenian-American leaders that you would bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution to a floor vote in the United States House of Representatives. Next year will mark the 90th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide and it would be a noble and fitting gesture for this nation–which President Reagan so aptly called–’the last best hope of man on earth,’ to recognize the deaths of 1.5 million Armenian men–women and children."

The Schiff Amendment–which was adopted last month by the full House–protects Americans from having their tax dollars used by the Turkish government to lobby against the House Genocide Resolution. In response to its adoption–the Speaker of the US House and Congressional Republican leaders released a statement opposing the measure and furthermore explained that they had no intention of scheduling a vote on H.Res.193.

The House Genocide Resolution 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. The House Judiciary Committee adopted H.Res.193 unanimously in May 2003.

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