Rep. Crowley Takes a Step Back

In the aftermath of Agos editor Hrant Dink’s murder by Turkish ulra-nationalists, Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) introduced legislation honoring the memory of the journalist and condemning Turkey for its laws suppressing freedoms. That step was welcomed by the Armenian-American community, especially since Dink’s insistence that Turkey recognize the Armenian Genocide as a way to come to grips with its past was highlighted in his H.Res.102. In a surprise move this week, Rep. Crowley pulled that legislation from the House and introduced H.Res.155, which replaces the original Dink memorial bill. While the new resolution opts to commemorate Dink as well, it fails to highlight the Armenian Genocide and the need for its recognition. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and 2008 presidential hopeful Joseph Biden (D-Del.) introduced similar legislation in the Senate on February 1. His measure explicitly refers to the criminal prosecution Dink faced because of his speech on the Armenian Genocide. Congressman Crowley is a long-standing friend, but this latest action is deeply troubling to his Armenian-American constituents, and to Armenia’s throughout the United States. It is evident that Rep. Crowley did not consult with Armenian-American, because–without exception–any Armenian-American group would have objected to cutting the Armenian Genocide from any legislation before Congress. Furthermore, removing a reference to the Armenian Genocide from legislation that honors Dink’s life presents an inaccurate portrayal of his very public struggle to end the denial of this crime and betrays his legacy to achieve Turkish recognition of the Genocide–the struggle, which ultimately cost him his life. Did Rep. Crowley remove the mention of the Armenian Genocide due to the environment and intimidation fostered by the Turkish lobby? One can speculate. Nevertheless, it presents a clear cut reason to secure the adoption of the Armenian Genocide resolution, which was introduced by representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), George Radanovich (R-Calif.) and their colleagues, the co-chairmen of the Armenian-American Caucus Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.). Rather than pressing legislation that–despite his best intentions–would actually undermine Dink’s legacy, Rep. Crowley’s time, resources and energy would be best spent on ensuring the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Then, not only would Dink’s legacy be honored, but also the aspirations of Armenian-Americans–including Crowley’s constituents–would be realized.

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