LONDON–A group of British Parliamentarians from both Houses of Parliament presented a petition last Wednesday–July 26 to Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street–calling upon the British Government to recognize the mass killings of Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire as a case of genocide.
The Petition–issued by the British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group–was signed by 57 Parliamentarians and thousands of British citizens–among them artists–bankers–historians–politicians–scholars–businessmen–teachers–and others. The petition was also signed by a large number of British Armenia’s through the efforts of the Armenian Committee for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Earlier–at the Parliament–BAAPPG Chairman Lord Walpole presented a Written Question to the Government–where he asked Her Majesty’s Government:
"Whether they are willing to recognize the killing of Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire of 1915 as genocide within the definition of the United Nations Convention on the prevention and punishment of the Crime of Genocide; and–if not–why not."
Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC responded on behalf of the British Government on 13 July:
"The Government’s position on this topic is well known and was discussed in the House of Lords on 14 April 1999. The British Government condemned the massacre of 1915-16 at the time and viewed the sufferings of the Armenian people then as a terrible tragedy. The current Government in no way dissents from that view. But in the absence of unequivocal evidence to show that the Ottoman administration took a specific decision to eliminate the Armenia’s–British Governmen’s have not recognized the events of 1915-1916 as genocide."
On July 25–during the Parliament’s Early Day Motion–parliament member Jane Griffiths made a statement to her colleagues:
"This House congratulates the participants in the recent Scholars Conference on the Holocaust on their statement affirming that ‘the Armenian genocide is an incontestable historical fact’ and urging Western democratic governmen’s to recognize it as such–and therefore urges the Government to take the lead internationally by recognizing the 1915 Armenian massacre as genocide–both in the interests of historical accuracy and as impetus to democracy in Turkey."
Later–Baroness Cox also made a presentation during the Parliament’s Oral Question time urging Her Majesty’s Government to recognize the Genocide.
The delegation to the Government’s Office included Baroness Cox of Queensbury–the Lord Biffen–Members of Parliament Jane Griffiths–John Austin–Dr. Rudi Vis; The Earl of Shannon–founder and former Chairman of BAAPPG–Odette Bazil–Group’s Executive Secretary–Christopher Walker–member of the Advisory Board–and Bagrat Nazarian of the Armenian Committee for recognition of the Genocide.
This Petition handed to the British Government is the first instance in British history where Members of Parliament (from both Houses)–rather than ordinary citizens–presented a formal petition concerning the Armenian Genocide.