Reps. Eshoo and Sweeney Urge House Colleagues to Call for a Vote on the Armenian Genocide

–Support Continues to Grow for Congressional Letter to Speaker Hastert in Support of the Schiff Amendment and H.Res.193

WASHINGTON–DC (ANCA)–New York Republican John Sweeney and California Democrat Anna Eshoo have joined together in the effort encouraging their Congressional colleagues to cosign a letter to Speaker Hastert urging him to maintain the Schiff amendment in the House Foreign aid bill and schedule a vote on the Genocide Resolution.

The letter currently has over 60 signatories and support continues to grow in the days leading up to the House and Senate conference to finalize the FY 2005 foreign aid bill.

In a letter to House Members–Reps. Eshoo and Sweeney–both of Armenian descent–explained:

"Under the Ottoman Empire–nearly two million Armenia’s who were living in Eastern Anatolia were deported from their homes. Of the two million deportees–only 500,000 survived this ordeal. The historical record is clear. From 1915 to 1923–the Ottoman Empire succeeded in systematically eliminating the Armenia’s from their historical homeland where they had lived for over two thousand years. H.Res.193 reaffirmed our nation’s commitment to the noble aims of the Genocide Convention–and urges the American people to learn from the lessons of past genocides in order to help prevent future crimes against humanity."

The Schiff Amendment–spearheaded by California Democrat Adam Schiff–was unanimously adopted by the House in a voice vote–during discussions of the FY 2005 foreign aid bill. The legislation would bar the Turkish government from using US foreign aid funds for lobbying against the Genocide Resolution. Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL)–Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX)–and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) immediately denounced the measure in a harshly worded press release placed on the front page of the House Speaker’s website–citing concerns about its effects on US-Turkey relations and pledging to remove the language from the final foreign aid bill.

Following the Speaker’s announced opposition to the measure–more than a dozen national grassroots Armenian American organizations cosigned a letter to the House leader–voicing the community’s unequivocal opposition to efforts to reverse the Schiff Amendment to the fiscal year 2005 Foreign Operations bill–and expressing the community’s "great dismay with your public statement against holding a vote on the Genocide Resolution–H.Res.193."

The organizations that signed the community-wide letter were the ANCA–the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church–Eastern and Western US–the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church–Eastern and Western US–the Armenian Missionary Association of America–and the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics–as well as the Armenian General Benevolent Union–Armenian Democratic Liberal (Ramgavar) Party–United Armenian Fund–Armenian Relief Society–Armenian Bar Association–National Organization of Republican Armenia’s–Armenian Youth Federation–Homenetmen–Armenian General Athletic Union–and Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural and Educational Association.

Reps. George Radanovich (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) introduced the Genocide resolution (H.Res.193) in April–2003. The legislation (H.Res.193) was unanimously adopted by the House Judiciary Committee in May of that year and currently has 111 cosponsors. Similar legislation in the Senate (S.Res.164) has over 40 cosponsors.

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