Schiff Criticizes Genocide Remarks of Turkish Official

Lawmaker Calls for Renewed Effort for US to Recognize Armenian Genocide In Light of Commen’s by Turkish Parliament Human Rights Commission Leader

WASHINGTON–DC–Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) this week condemned recent remarks by Mehmet Elkatmis–head of the Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Commission–in which he accused the United States of committing genocide in Iraq. Elkatmis declared–"Never in human history have such genocide and cruelty been witnessed. Such a genocide was never seen in the time of the pharaohs–nor of Hitler–nor of Mussolini." Congressman Schiff is circulating a letter to his colleagues in the House of Representatives to make them aware of Elkatmis’s commen’s and to urge Congress to pass legislation commemorating the Armenian Genocide. Congressman Schiff also released the following statement:

"The Turkish Government’s effort to deny the murder of 1.5 million Armenian men–women and children by the Ottoman Turks has reached a new level of hypocrisy. The Government of Turkey spends massive sums on high-priced Washington lobbyists to convince Congress and the Administration that US-Turkish relations will be irreparably harmed by American acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide. At the same time–the Turkish government does nothing to repudiate the scurrilous charges leveled by a senior parliamentarian who is a member of the ruling party.

"It is clear to me that since the Turkish government has no compunction about accusing the United States of genocide–we should not be hesitant to recognize those murdered by a government that no longer exists. It is also clear to me–given the relatively mild reaction to Mr. Elkatmis’ remarks–that the potential fallout from a Congressional resolution has been greatly exaggerated by the Turkish government’s lobbyists."

Just recently–an amendment authored by Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and included in the House version of the Foreign Operations spending bill–that would have stopped the Government of Turkey from using US foreign aid to lobby against a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide was dropped from the final FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 4818).

In July during consideration of the Foreign Operations spending bill–the House of Representatives voted to adopt the Schiff amendment–prohibiting the Government of Turkey from using US foreign aid to lobby against H.Res. 193–a resolution that officially recognizes the Armenian Genocide and marks the 15th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan signing the 1987 Genocide Convention Implementation Act. (Also known as the Proxmire Act–this put the United States on record as being strongly opposed to the heinous crime of genocide.) H.Res. 193 passed the House Judiciary Committee on May 22–2003–shortly after its introduction on April 10–2003. However–because of significant lobbying efforts by those who deny the Genocide–the resolution has been languishing on the House calendar for over a year.

The day after the House passed the Foreign Operations bill–Speaker Hastert issued a joint statement with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (TX-22) and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (MO-7) in opposition to the Schiff amendment on the Armenian Genocide. The Speaker’s statement expressed the House Majority Leadership’s determination to drop the Schiff amendment from the final version of the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill and their intention to block the consideration of H.Res. 193–even though Speaker Hastert made a public pledge in 2000 to the Armenian American community to schedule a floor vote on such a resolution. The Senate passed its version of the Foreign Operations bill (S. 2812) on September 23 without the Schiff amendment. Last week–a conference committee combined nine appropriations bills–including the Foreign Operations spending bill–into the FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Act (H.R. 4818). The Conference Committee left the Schiff amendment out of H.R. 4818–which passed the House of Representatives and Senate on November 20.

Congressman Schiff is a Member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues–a co-founder of the Democratic Study Group on National Security and a member of both the House Judiciary and International Relations committees. He represents California’s 29th Congressional District–which includes the communities of Alhambra–Altadena–Burbank–East Pasadena–East San Gabriel–Glendale–Monterey Park–Pasadena–San Gabriel–South Pasadena and Temple City.

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