Schiff Renews Push for Congress to Recognize Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON– US Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Tuesday began circulating a Dear Colleague letter, urging fellow House Members to sign on as co-sponsors of H. Res. 252, the Affirmation of the U.S. Record on the Armenian Genocide, introduced by him to recognize, commemorate and properly characterize the murder of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children during World War I as genocide.

“For too long, the United States has given in to Turkey’s bullying and efforts to recognize the victims of the genocide have fallen short,” Rep. Schiff said in the letter.  “Preservation of the bilateral relationship has been allowed to supersede our moral duty to memorialize and honor those who died, and to comfort their descendants – our constituents – who fear that the first genocide of the Twentieth Century will be lost to history.”

While the Armenian Genocide has been recognized by more than 20 nations including Canada, Italy, Sweden, France, Argentina and Russia, as well as the European Parliament, it has not been formally recognized by the U.S. Congress in decades.  Currently, 143 Members have signed on as co-sponsors to honor the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

“Given Turkey’s recent behavior, this Congress needs to reevaluate whether we should continue to dishonor the dead to placate a false friend,” Rep. Schiff continues in the letter.  “Now is the time to reassert our moral leadership in the fight against genocide, to honor the memory of a million and a half innocent men, women and children.”

In an ongoing effort to parallel H. Res. 252 to recognize and commemorate the Armenian Genocide, Rep. Schiff is also calling on survivors of the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, as well as their family members and descendants, to submit their stories and memories for inclusion into the Congressional Record.  To contribute to Rep. Schiff’s Armenian Genocide Congressional Record Project, send your family’s story to Mary Hovagimian in Rep. Schiff’s Pasadena office at

Below is the full text of the Dear Colleague letter that Rep. Schiff sent to his fellow Members of Congress today:

From: The Honorable Adam B. Schiff
Sent By:
Bill: H.Res. 252
Date: 6/15/2010



– Join 143 Members in Honoring the Victims of the Armenian Genocide –

Dear Colleague:

Ninety-five years ago, the Government of the Ottoman Empire initiated a campaign of extermination against the Armenian people. Hundreds of thousands were murdered outright. Others died on forced marches through the searing heat of the deserts of modern-day Syria. Families, towns and communities disappeared in an orgy of collective blood-lust carried out by the Ottoman government. By the time that the killings ended in 1923, one and a half million Armenians were dead and the world’s oldest Christian nation had been shattered – with its survivors scattered around the world.

Although there is near unanimity among historians that the events of 1915-23 constitute genocide, the government of the modern Republic of Turkey steadfastly denies that the mass murders carried out by its predecessor was genocide and threatens any nation or group of nations that recognizes it as such. For too long, the United States has given in to Turkey’s bullying and Congressional efforts to recognize the victims of the genocide have fallen short.

Every Member of Congress, past and present, who has reviewed the facts, who has reviewed the State Department cables and other documentary evidence in our National Archives, who has read the contemporary newspaper accounts of the horrors visited upon the Armenian people, knows that this was genocide. But year after year, proponents of Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide have been told “now is not the time.” Preservation of the bilateral relationship has been allowed to supersede our moral duty to memorialize and honor those who died and to comfort their descendants – our constituents – who fear that the first genocide of the Twentieth Century will be lost to history.

Given Turkey’s recent behavior, this Congress needs to reevaluate whether we should continue to dishonor the dead to placate a false friend. While many Americans remember Turkey’s refusal to allow coalition forces to enter Iraq from its territory in 2003, Ankara’s refusal to assist American forces has grown to embrace an agenda that is at odds with our own.

Turkey has become one of Iran’s primary defenders and apologists. Last fall, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan told an interviewer said of Iran’s bellicose president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “There is no doubt he is our friend.”

Recently, Turkey and Brazil tried to frustrate months of careful diplomacy at the United Nations by announcing a sham nuclear deal with Iran that would have allowed the Iranians to continue their pursuit of nuclear weapons. When the international community, including Russia and China, pressed ahead with a new round of sanctions, Turkey was one of only two votes against the plan in the Security Council.

Turkey has also turned on its ally, Israel. The two countries used to enjoy close relations, but under the government of Prime Minister Erdogan, Turkey has launched numerous rhetorical fusillades against Israel. Erdogan, who in the past has talked of the “Jewish controlled international media,” has called Israel the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East.

Turkey was the main instigator of the recent “Gaza flotilla” and, thus, bears responsibility for the tragic events of May 31.

Ankara supports Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, whose government perpetrated the Darfur genocide and who once harbored Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda leadership. Bashir, who recently was declared the winner of an election widely seen as rigged, is the only sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

This is not the behavior one expects from a friend, and Turkey can no longer be allowed to work against us in numerous international fora, but then assert that our “alliance” cannot withstand an expression of remembrance for one and a half million souls.

Amazingly, a handful of Genocide survivors is still with us. The youngest of them are in their nineties and they have only one wish – to see their families’ suffering properly memorialized in their lifetimes. Now is the time to reassert our moral leadership in the fight against genocide, and to honor the memory of a million and a half innocent men, women and children.

I urge you to join me in fulfilling our obligation to remember. To cosponsor H. Res. 252, please contact Tim Bergreen of my staff at 5.4176 or at

Member of Congress


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  1. Nairian said:

    Thank you and I applaud you for your just stand of the Armenian Genocide recognition dear Rep. Adam Schiff. I thank you for your good and justified letter to the American Congressmen urging them to pass the H. Res. 252 . I have already sent my families doomed story from 1915 through 1923 to Ms. Mary Hovagimian a little while ago.

    I urge to every Armenian who has a story from the surviving member or members of their family from 1915-1923 of the Arm. Genocide to send it to Ms. Hovagimian.


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  4. manooshag said:

    Thank you Congressman Schiff for your ongoing and steadfast committment seeking
    the recognition of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation (from 1890s and
    into today, 2010, still a Genocide which is not yet ended.
    Thank you Congressman Schiff… for if the Turks had been made to face their guilt in
    early 20th century ALL the Genocides that followed, all those innocents slaughtered and
    worse, shall have never occurred… never been. Despots shall have known that Genocides
    were not allowed by anyone, anywhere, whether foe or an ‘ally’…
    Woodrow Wilson’s aspirations for the Armenians to regain their lands was his efforts for
    a people he saw as deserving and worthy (as opposed to Turks).
    Today Woodrow Wilson’s memory is being besmirched by the obscene misuse of his name
    to award a Turk leader a Woodrow Wilson award. How the Turks will use and misuse any
    and all ‘references/connections’ to Armenians – even to using a revered and honest leader of
    the USA, Woodrow Wilson, to gain this award – for what?? Most deservedly for committing
    Genocides in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries – committing vile murders and worse.
    Actually, most civilized nations bring murderers to face their guilt and are penalized…
    howsomever, name the mass killings of humans as GENOCIDES and the perpetrator goes
    scott free – of all the Genocides – in all these hundreds of years – initiated and still ongoing –
    today onging with the Kurds – fighter planes used against humans! The inhumanity of the
    Turk leaderships, from the Ottomans until today… ravishing humans… for this they deserve
    an Award…

  5. Mastikian said:

    What a letter!!! Very well written. Explaining in detail exactly what Turkey is all about. I hope members of Congress will take the time to read it fully and vote to pass the H. Res. 252 to finally recognize the Armenian Genocide. I am a 3rd generation Armenian survivor. All my great grand parents, paternal and maternal, were massacred during the extermination process of Armenians carried out by the Ottoman Empire. I truly appreciate all your hard work, Mr Schiff, in trying to set the records straight and help us, Armenians, get justice. I hope to see it in my life time. A BIG Thank You from me and the one and half millions who lost their lives. We shall NEVER and should NEVER forget them!!!!

  6. manooshag said:

    Hye, Congressman Schiff, I am hoping for any and all efforts to
    end any and all Genocides – humans killing humans… innocents…
    an end to the current cycle of Genocides… when civilized nations together,
    seek to end all Genocides. Today, the Turks of the Kurds… who next?


    March 26, 2010

    Honorable Congressman Adam Schiff,

    Please accept my sincerest gratitude and thanks on the occasion of the adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution 252 by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States of America Senate.

    The Armenian people have never lost their hopes in achieving ultimate justice and has relied heavily on the impartial stand adopted by the American Senate. I hope that the crimes committed by Turkey at the turn of the nineteenth century will be dealt with justly by the US Administration, who will have the courage to abruptly confront the Turkish hysteric tactics and as a democratic nation, the USA will be able to prove to the world that there are universal moral values that supersede all kinds of materialistic and military gains and thereby proving to the world that the US government is the true bearer of democracy and justice.

    It is our hope that the adoption of the 252 Resolution by the US Congress will empower the US Administration and specially for President Obama to be able to stand tall in recognizing April 24, 1915 genocide as genocide, and to condemn all kinds of genocides, wherever and whenever they may be.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Sona Arshuneci

    The Cold Blooded Eyes of the Giant Powers*

    Written by Sona Arshuneci

    Translated from Armenian by Daniel Janoyan

    March 8, 2010

    Countless rocky obstacles keep holding me back,

    But I am still making strides and going ahead.

    The roads of my past turned into a battle

    My worn out heart could not resist.

    My human heart is hurt indeed

    Never finding a cure nor any remedy.

    Troubled waters are still flowing

    Making an Armenian’s destiny very dull.

    Everywhere I was in search of justice

    But each time I was confronted by a solid rock.

    The whole world is ambiguous and a sham indeed;

    A plot maker and blood-thirsty.

    The pain of my people being fully alive

    While surviving a genocide,.keep torturing me.

    We are very tiny compared to the universe so very wide.

    These kinds of thoughts devour my heart

    My unfortunate people will keep enduring

    The injustices of the giants.

    My people are a small insignificant spike

    In the cold blooded eyes of the giant powers…

    •Sona Arshuneci is an Armenian political activist and analyst residing in Brussels. She is the author of numerous poems and political articles the majority of which speak of the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 perpetrated by the Ottoman empire against innocent Armenians.

  8. john papazian said:

    Can HR252 be put to a vote in November? Midterms not withstanding.I just don’t see it hapening.President Obama couldn’t use the “G” word because of policy issues and the current flap between Isreal and Turkey won’t last long.The window of oppertunity is open but the screen is still locked down.

  9. rosine simitian said:

    Thank you Mr. Schiff! I applaud your courageous stand and actions. Keep it up!
    With sincere gratitude,
    Rosy Simitian

  10. sebouh from australia said: