Tankian Praises Hoagland “Hold”

WASHINGTONSerj Tankian, lead singer for the Grammy Award-winning band System of a Down, has welcomed the "hold" placed by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on the confirmation of Richard Hoagland as US Ambassador to Armenia until the Bush Administration ends its denial of the Armenian Genocide. "I respect US Senator Bob Menendez’s decision to block the President’s nominee for US Ambassador to Armenia until the Bush Administration ends its cover-up of the Armenian Genocide," said Serj Tankian. "His principled stand represents a powerful contribution to the worldwide effort to end the denial of justice for this crime, and break forever the worldwide cycle of genocide." This April, Tankian was joined by fellow System member John Dolmayan in a three-day Armenian Genocide recognition advocacy tour of Washington, DC, featuring meetings with Members of Congress, an anti-denial rally outside the Turkish Embassy, and a Capitol Hill screening of the new Genocide documentary "Screamers." In announcing his decision last month to block the Hoagland nomination, Sen. Menendez stressed that, "as a leader and defender of democracy, it is our nation’s responsibility to speak out against injustice and support equality and human rights. But if the Bush Administration continues to refuse to acknowledge the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide, then there is certainly cause for great alarm, which is why I am placing a hold on this nominee." He added that, "I will continue to work with my colleagues in the United States Senate to make strides toward ensuring that all people, regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity, receive protection from policies of discrimination and hate that lead to genocide." On September 7, after more than forty minutes of intense debate, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Ambassador-Designate Hoagland’s nomination. Following the vote, the ANCA announced that it would continue to urge Senators to place a hold on the Hoagland nomination. On two previous occasions, June 28 and August 1, the panel delayed its consideration of the nomination due to bipartisan concerns over a series of controversies. Among these points of contention were the nominee’s written responses to Senator Boxer’s inquiry, in which he questioned the genocidal intent of the Ottoman Turkish government. Also of concern to members of the panel was the State Department’s firing of the current US Ambassador to Armenia, John Marshal Evans. His early recall from Yerevan is widely seen as retribution for his public statemen’s, in February of 2005, calling for an end to "word games" by the US government in avoiding the proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Despite dozens of Congressional inquiries, the Administration has yet to explain its reasons for firing Amb. Evans or to reveal the communications it received from the Turkish government on this matter. To date, more than half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Senators George Allen (R-VA), Joseph Biden (D-DE), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Norm Coleman, Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Russell Feingold (D-WI), John Kerry (D-MA), Barack Obama (D-IL) and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), have contacted Secretary Rice or questioned Ambassador-designate Hoagland directly regarding his nomination or the firing of Ambassador Evans. Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and most recently John Ensign (R-NV), along with over sixty Members of the US House have also expressed serious concerns to the State Department on this matter. In a September 1 letter, the ANCA urged Members of the Committee to block the Hoagland nomination until: 1. Ambassador-designate Hoagland provides a responsible and unambiguous public statement affirming that he does not question the clear genocidal intent of the Ottoman Turkish government against its Armenian population. 2. The State Department provides a full, honest, and public explanation regarding the reasons for the controversial firing of the current Ambassador, John Marshall Evans. 3. The Administration explains any and all communications, directly or indirectly, between the US government and the Turkish government concerning Ambassador Evans. Since February of this year, the ANCA has led nationwide efforts to demand answers concerning the recall of Ambassador Evans and, later, to educate Senators about the adverse impact of sending an envoy to Armenia that has called into question the genocidal character of Ottoman Turkey’s systematic destruction of its Armenian population.

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