WASHINGTON–With a vote of three hundred and ninety-nine in favor–zero against–and thirty-four not-voting–the House of Representatives passed a resolution Wednesday deploring the assassinations of Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan–Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchian and six other government leaders during the October 27 attack on the Armenian Parliament–reported the Armenian National Committee of America. Prior to its adoption–a bipartisan group of congressional leaders joined the bill’s author–Glendale–California Republican Jim Rogan–in speaking in favor of the legislation’s call for expanded US-Armenian relations.
"We would like to thank Congressman Rogan for introducing this measure and to express our appreciation to all those–particularly International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gilman and Ranking Member Sam Gejdensen – who ensured this legislation’s progress through the committee process and its final adoption this week on the House floor," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
"We were–of course–especially proud of the moving remarks offered by first-term Congressman John Sweeney who – along with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo of San Francisco – is one of two Armenian Americans serving in the House of Representatives. Armenia’s from throughout the United States share his devotion to Armenia and empathize with his heartfelt recollection of his own family’s legacy and the story of his grandfather’s return to Armenia–after having witnessed the Genocide–to fight for the freedom of his people," added Hamparian.
"It is with a great heaviness in my heart that I rise and ask my colleagues to join me in supporting House Concurrent Resolution 222–honoring the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Yerevan–the capital of Armenia," began Rep. Rogan. Commenting on Armenia’s significant strides toward democracy–Rep. Rogan went on to note that "As evidence of this progress–communities throughout Armenia recently held local elections that were deemed free and fair by the European Community. This signaled to the world the accomplishmen’s of Prime Minister Sargsyan and his slain colleagues. It also signaled that the future of Armenia–even after the loss of these men–is a bright one that bodes well for the advancement of democracy."
Freshman Republican John Sweeney (NY)–who is of Armenian descent–spoke poignantly of the Armenian people’s commitment to freedom and democracy: "I say this primarily out of recognition of my own grandfather’s history and his past. My grandfather came to this country–Mr. Speaker–before World War I and returned to his homeland to fight against tyranny and fascism–earning two Russian medals of honor. He came back to this country and made a life for his family and for us. I know the Armenian spirit is strong; and I know that–with our proper support–as this resolution will provide–Armenia will prevail."
Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) concurred–noting that "Despite our grief–we want to take this opportunity to emphasize our belief in Armenia’s commitment to democracy–economic reform–peace–and stability within Armenia and throughout the region. We take this opportunity to reiterate our full confidence that this commitment is deeply held by the government and by the majority of the Armenia people. Armenia has been cruelly deprived of gifted politicians and statesmen who were leading it into a new millennium."