WASHINGTON–DC–The introduction of legislation in Congress seeking justice for the victims of the Cambodian Genocide was welcomed today by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) as an important step toward ensuring that the lessons of past genocides are used to help prevent future crimes against humanity.
The measure (H.Con.Res.83)–introduced on March 6th by California Democrat Juanita Millender-McDonald–has been referred to the Committee on International Relations.
"We join with our friends in the Cambodian American community in thanking Congresswoman Millender-McDonald for introducing this legislation honoring the victims of the Cambodian Genocide and–in particular–for her commitment to pursuing justice for the millions of innocent Cambodians slaughtered in this horrific crime," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director the ANCA. "Only by dealing openly and honestly with the past – and addressing its injustices – can we hope to lay the foundation for a future without genocide."
Joining Congresswoman Millender-McDonald as cosponsors–as of March 10th–are Representatives: Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)–Shelley Berkley (D-NV)–Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam)–Danny Davis (D-IL)–William Delahunt (D-MA)–Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)–Bob Filner (D-CA)–Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA)–Michael Honda (D-CA)–Steve Israel (D-NY)–Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)–Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH)–Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)–John Larson (D-CT)–Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)–Major Owens (D-NY)–Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)–Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)–Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)–Janice Schakowsky (D-IL)–Todd Tiahrt (R-KS)–Edolphus Towns (D-NY)–Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)–David Wu (D-OR) and–Albert Wynn (D-MD).
THE FULL TEXT OF H.CON.RES 83 IS PROVIDED BELOW:
H. CON. RES. 83 (March 6–2003): Honoring the victims of the Cambodian genocide that took place from April 1975 to January 1979.
Whereas beginning in April 1975 and ending in January 1979 at least 1,700,000 to 3,000,000 people were deliberately and systematically killed in Cambodia in one of the worst human tragedies of the modern era;
Whereas in 1975–Pol Pot led the Communist guerilla group–the Khmer Rouge–in a large-scale insurgency in Cambodia that resulted in the removal of Cambodians from their homes and into labor camps in an attempt to restructure Khmer society;
Whereas traditional Khmer culture and society were systematically destroyed–including the destruction of temples–schools–hospitals–and other buildings;
Whereas families were separated in an attempt by the Khmer Rouge to prevent family formation–many individuals were punished or killed for education–wealth–or sophistication–and doctors–nurses–clergy–teachers–business owners–artisans–city dwellers–and even those individuals who wore glasses were singled out for execution since they were seen as bourgeois or contaminated with Western influence;
Whereas the Khmer Rouge maintained control by mass public torture–executions–and dismantling of the social order;
Whereas men–women–and children were sent to labor camps and forced to do strenuous farm work and famine and disease became epidemic while medicine and medical care were non-existent;
Whereas after the Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown in 1979 thousands of Cambodians fled on foot to refugee camps in Thailand and many refugees were processed again in other camps in the Philippines and Indonesia;
Whereas from these refugee camps approximately 145,149 Cambodians made their way to the United States between 1975 and 1999–with the majority of Cambodians arriving in the early 1980s;
Whereas these Cambodians were subsequently resettled in communities across the United States;
Whereas according to United States Bureau of the Census figures for 2000–there are approximately 206,053 Cambodians currently living in the United States;
Whereas despite their tremendous loss–Cambodians and Cambodian-Americans have shown courage and resiliency;
Whereas the memory of those Cambodians who were killed during the Cambodian genocide must never be forgotten and the survivors of the Cambodian genocide should be honored;
Whereas the resettlement of Cambodians reflected the hard work of voluntary agencies through funding by the Federal government–individual citizens–and Federal–State–and local governmental agencies–all working together to assist the new arrivals in adjusting to American society;
Whereas Cambodian refugees have done much to further successful resettlement in the United States–including through mutual assistance associations organized by previously resettled Southeast Asian refugees to help new refugees through the provision of essential social–psychological–cultural–educational–and economic services; and
Whereas while remembering and honoring both their traditional culture and their traumatic past–the new generation of Cambodian Americans is contributing to American society in meaningful ways:
Now–therefore–be it resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring)–
1) honors the victims of the genocide in Cambodia that took place beginning in April 1975 and ending in January 1979; and
2) is committed to pursue justice for the victims of the Cambodian genocide.