Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) Draws Parallels between Darfur and Armenian Genocides at White House Vigil
WASHINGTON–DC–Armenian Americans from the Greater Washington–DC area joined with local student leaders and community activists this week to protest the ongoing Genocide in Darfur–Sudan. Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) was among speakers at the May 25 White House vigil–organized by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Rep. Pallone thanked attendees for calling attention to the situation in Darfur–Sudan–and went on to draw parallels between the Armenian and Darfur genocides. "It’s very reminiscent of what happened in the case of the Armenian Genocide," stated Rep. Pallone. "There were people that were speaking out that were not listened to. In the case of the Turks–they were out there in the fields–constantly killing people and moving people into the desert. While there were those who were speaking out [about the Armenian Genocide]–the Western powers really weren’t doing anything about it. We don’t want to be in that situation again here in the United States."
Rep. Pallone praised the leadership of fellow New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) in spearheading the Darfur Accountability Act (S.495/H.R. 1424) in the Senate and House. The ANCA has joined with Africa Action and other groups in nationwide ANCA WebFax campaigns calling for the passage of the legislation. ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian updated attendees about the status of each bill and called on activists to urge House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) to work for final adoption of the measure.
During the vigil–representatives of the ANCA–Africa Action–the Armenian Youth Federation–Genocide Education Project–and Armenian American activists and supporters gave impassioned remarks about the importance of continued activism to press for decisive action by the Bush Administration to end the violence in Darfur. Among the speakers joining Rep. Pallone and Nahapetian were ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian; Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian; Africa Action Executive Director Salih Booker–Director for Public Education and Mobilization Marie Clarke Brill–and Program Associate Akenji Ndumu; Genocide Education Project Education Director Sara Cohen; Armenian American activist Sylvia Parsons; and AYF member Megan Young.
Hamparian expressed concern about the US Government’s inaction following a September 2004–statement properly characterizing the killings and rapes in Darfur as "genocide."By using the term genocide–and not acting on our legal and moral obligations–our invocation of the term genocide is hollowed of meaning. Our commitment to the Genocide Convention is undermined. Those whose lives it was within our power to save are abandoned," explained Hamparian.
Booker concurred and noted–"President Bush’s senior advisors have been asked–’Is the President still engaged on the issue of genocide in Darfur?’ And the Presidential aides–the White House aides have said: yes–the President remains engaged on the subject of genocide–but there are other more important matters requiring his attention. We are here on the lawn of the White House to ask: What is more important than stopping genocide?"
Booker thanked the ANCA for providing the leadership for the vigil–and for providing leadership "not just today–not just over the weeks–not just being an ally–but providing leadership in this country to get people to understand what the crime of genocide is and why it’s unacceptable anywhere that it occurs on this earth."
The ANCA has participated in previous Darfur vigils–protested outside the Sudanese Embassy–spoken at genocide prevention conferences–and generated support–both at the grassroots level and in Washington–DC–for Congressional legislation aimed at ending the slaughter in the Darfur region.
Up to 400,000 people have already died and more than 2,000,000 dislocated in Darfur over the past two years. Recent reports confirm that the situation on the ground is deteriorating–and the humanitarian crisis is reaching desperate proportions.
For more information about Darfur: www.africaaction.org. To send a free ANCA WebFax protesting the Darfur Genocide: www.anca.org.