The California State Assembly unanimously passed a resolution Monday calling for a State Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide to be observed on April 24–1998.
The resolution–which passed with a vote of 73-0 and will proclaim April 24–1998–as "California Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923," was introduced by Assemblymembers Scott Wildman (43rd District)–Chuck Poochigian (29th District)–Howard Kaloogian (74th District) and Louis Papan (19th District).
"It is important for all of us to remember these tragic events–so that crimes against humanity are never committed again," said Poochigian. "The Armenian Genocide was the first genocide of the 20th century. With few survivors remaining–there is a special urgency to these efforts around the world.
"There is a well-organized–well-financed effort to revise history by denying the occurrence of the Genocide. We must all work to assure that truth prevails."
Assemblymember Wildman was quick to support the resolution–and had strong words on the floor of the California Assembly for not only nay-sayers but for the Turkish government’s continued denial of the event.
"I rise today in strong support and as a joint author of ACR 138. I am very pleased to represent the largest community of constituents of Armenian heritage outside of Armenia–in my 43rd Assembly district," Wildman’said. "ACR 138 affirms that this Legislature not only recognizes that the tragic–and historically accurate–Armenian Genocide did exist–but also that this body will call on all Californians to recognize April 24–1998 as a day of remembrance for the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
"I mention history because there have been some who have tried to deny the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide. In fact–as we sit here today–the main proponents of historical revisionism–the Turkish government–is attempting to use its influence and its dollars to establish departmen’s in our universities to expressly deny the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide.
"We must be diligent in order to assure that any attempts to systematically eliminate racial–cultural or religious groups be internationally condemned and that academic freedom be jealously guarded."
ACR 138 will next be heard by the state Senate–and will be up for voting soon thereafter.
"While the Genocide took place long ago and far away–the issue of its commemoration is more important than ever," Poochigian added in his speech to the Assembly. "Tens of millions of people have lost their lives by genocidal actions in this century. The killing continues. It is important because it is the kind of occurrence that we must remember in the hope of avoiding similar acts.
"There is another reason to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide. It is because of a well-organized–well-financed effort sponsored by the Republic of Turkey to rewrite history."
Below is the text of the resolution:
Whereas–Armenia’s living in their 3,000 year historic homeland in Asia Minor were subjected to severe persecution and brutal injustice by the Turkish rulers of the Ottoman Empire before and after the turn of the 20th century–including widespread acts of destruction and murder during the period from 1894-1896 and again in 1909; and
WHEREAS–The horrible experience of the Armenian at the hands of their Turkish oppressors culminated with what is known by historians as the First Genocide of the Twentieth Century–or the "Forgotten Genocide;" and
WHEREAS–The Armenian Genocide began with the murder of hundreds of Armenian intellectuals–and political–religious–and business leaders who were arrested and taken from their homes in Constantinople before dawn on April 24–1915; and
WHEREAS–The Young Turk regime then in control of the empire planned against the Armenia’s from 1915 through 1923–which included the torture–starvation–and murder of 1,500,000 Armenia’s–death marches into the Syrian desert–and the exile of more than 500,000 innocent people; and
WHEREAS–While there were some Turks who jeopardized their safety in order to protect Armenia’s from the slaughter being perpetrated by the Young Turk regime–the massacres of the Armenia’s constituted one of the most atrocious violations of human rights in the history of the world; and
WHEREAS–The United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire–Henry Morgenthau–Sr.–stated: "Whatever crimes the most perverted instincts of the human mind can devise–and whatever refinemen’s of persecutions and injustice the most debased imagination can conceive–became the daily misfortunes of this devoted people. I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915. The killing of the Armenian people was accompanied by the systematic destruction of churches–schools–libraries–treasures of art and cultural monumen’s–in an attempt to eliminate all traces of a noble civilization with a history of more than three thousands years," and
WHEREAS–Contemporary newspapers like the New York Times commonly carried headlines such as the following: "Tales of Armenian Horrors Confirmed,"Million Armenia’s Killed or in Exile,"Wholesale Massacre of Armenia’s by Turks;" and
WHEREAS–Adolph Hitler–in persuading his army commanders that the merciless persecution and killing of Jews–Poles–and other peoples would bring no retribution declared–"Who–after all–speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenia’s;" and
WHEREAS–Unlike other peoples and governmen’s that have admitted the abuses and crimes of predecessor regimes–and despite the overwhelming weight of evidence–the Republic of Turkey has denied the occurrence of the crimes against humanity committed by the Young Turk rulers–and those denials compound the grief of the few remaining survivors of the atrocities and desecrate the memory of the victims; and
WHEREAS–There are concerted efforts to revise history through the dissemination of propaganda in the period from 1915 through 1923 and by funding of programs at American educational institutions for the purpose of furthering the cause of such revisionism and to counter–in the words of a Turkish official–"the Armenian view;" and
WHEREAS–The accelerated level and scope of denial and revisionism–coupled with the passage of time and the fact that very few survivors remain who serve as reminders of indescribable brutality and tormented lives–compel a sense of urgency in efforts to solidify recognition of historical truth; and
WHEREAS–By consistently remembering and forcefully condemning the atrocities committed against the Armenia’s and honoring the survivors–as well as other victims of similar heinous conduct–we guard against repetition of such acts of genocide; and
WHEREAS–California is home to the largest population of Armenia’s in the United States–and those citizens have enriched our state through leadership in the fields of academia–medicine–business–agriculture–government–and the arts–and are proud and patriotic practitioners of American citizenship; now–therefore–be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California–the Senate thereof concurring–That the Legislature of the State of California hereby designates April 24–1998–as the "California Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23;" and be it further
Resolved–That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the Governor and to Armenian churches and commemorative organizations.