Reps. Dold, Costa Call on State Dept. to Include Genocide in Online Country Histories

Rep. Dold

Legislators Also Call on Secretary Clinton to Report on Turkey’s Violations of the Freedom to Worship and Religious Property Rights of Armenians in Turkey

WASHINGTON—Representatives Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) have joined together in calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure that the histories of Armenia and Turkey on the State Department’s website “fully and properly recognize the complete moral, historical, political implications of the Armenian Genocide,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
 
In their April 15 letter, the two U.S. Representatives explained that the “background notes” on Armenia and Turkey “makes no mention at all of the 1.5 million Armenians who were, in President Obama’s own words last year, massacred or marched to death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. The omission of such a seminal event in the history of the Armenian and Turkish nations – one which is the subject of considerable high-profile diplomacy at the most senior levels of our government – is not only without merit historically, but also offensive to the memories of those killed in the first genocide of the 20th Century.” They went on to explain that: “We undermine our ability to effectively apply the lessons of past atrocities to the noble task of preventing future genocides when, for reasons of political expediency, we are seen as intentionally avoiding the proper commemoration and condemnation of any genocide and the ongoing injustices rooted in such crimes against humanity.”
 

Rep. Costa

“We join with Armenians in Illinois and California and around the nation in thanking Congressmen Dold and Costa for their leadership in seeking to align U.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide with both the facts of history and the values of the American people,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “The State Department’s failure to even mention Turkey’s murder and exile of the Armenians in its histories of Armenia and Turkey is deeply offensive, akin to review of Jewish history that leaves out the Nazi Holocaust; a history of the Aztecs that ignores their destruction by Spanish conquistadors; or a study of the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, & Choctaw that fails to include the Trail of Tears.”
 
The two Congressmen also urged Secretary Clinton to: “work with President Obama to ensure that he, in his April 24th remarks, keeps his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide as ‘genocide.’ In so doing, he would keep faith with his own statement as a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate that: “…the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable… As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

The State Department’s Background Notes on Armenia can be viewed here.
 
The State Department’s Background Notes on Turkey can be viewed here.
 
The complete text of the letter if provided below:
 
April 15, 2011
 
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
 
Dear Secretary Clinton:
 
We are writing to share with you our disappointment that the United States still does not officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, and to express our concern that this omission undermines both our moral standing and our nation’s credibility on human rights, at home and abroad.
 
Among the most troubling areas in which the United States does not properly recognize the Armenian Genocide is on the State Department’s own website – which, in its background pages on the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey, makes no mention at all of the 1.5 million Armenians who were, in President Obama’s own words last year, massacred or marched to death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. The omission of such a seminal event in the history of the Armenian and Turkish nations – one which is the subject of considerable high-profile diplomacy at the most senior levels of our government – is not only without merit historically, but also offensive to the memories of those killed in the first genocide of the 20th Century. We undermine our ability to effectively apply the lessons of past atrocities to the noble task of preventing future genocides when, for reasons of political expediency, we are seen as intentionally avoiding the proper commemoration and condemnation of any genocide and the ongoing injustices rooted in such crimes against humanity.
 
In light of these concerns, we ask that you please amend the State Department’s Armenia and Turkey Background Notes to fully and properly recognize the full moral, historical, political implications of the Armenian Genocide. We would, in addition, urge you to ensure that the State Department’s reports on Human Rights and International Religious Freedom document the Republic of Turkey’s ongoing denial of this crime and its failure to honor the freedom to worship and religious property rights of the remaining Armenians in Turkey.
 
More broadly, we call upon you to work with President Obama to ensure that he, in his April 24th remarks, keeps his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide as ‘genocide.’ In so doing, he would keep faith with his own statement as a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate that: “…the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable… As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
 
These steps would bring our government into accord with the facts of history, the core moral values of the American people, the governments of over 40 of our states, and the with more than 10 of our NATO allies. Please know that we appreciate your consideration of our concerns, and that we look forward to your timely reply to our request.
 
Sincerely,
Robert J. Dold
Member of Congress
 
Jim Costa
Member of Congress

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