ANCA Welcomes House Action to Reject Turkey’s Gag Rule against Honest U.S. Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide
WASHINGTON – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and other leading legislators are reporting publicly that the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.296) is set to come before the U.S. House for a vote as early as next week, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“I’m sure the government of Turkey is not happy with [these plans], but then again we’re not happy with the government of Turkey,” said Chairman Engel told reporters, according to an NPR report earlier Tuesday.
“We welcome movement on Capitol Hill to override Ankara’s veto and put America on the right side of the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “It’s clear that Erdogan won’t take U.S. sanctions seriously as long as Washington’s still enforcing his Armenian Genocide gag-rule.”
The ANCA has worked closely with House and Senate leaders to secure votes on H.Res.296 and its Senate counterpart – S.Res.150 – since their introduction in April, 2019. Earlier today, in a Facebook live video message, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian briefed Armenian Americans on the status of the legislation and next steps in the lead up to House consideration. Thousands of letters have already been sent to Congress by ANCA Rapid Responders and Armenian American advocates through the ANCA online portal – anca.org/genocide.
During a Commission of Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE – Helsinki Commission) hearing on Armenia reforms today, Rep. Pallone (D-NJ) referenced that a House vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution may come as early as next week.
Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), lead authors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.296), ramped up efforts again last week to secure passage of the measure, arguing that Congressional silence of that crime undermines U.S. moral authority in confronting Turkey’s atrocities today.
In an October 18 “Dear Colleague” letter distributed throughout the U.S. House, Representatives Schiff and Bilirakis argued, “As we confront atrocities that are being committed in the present day, it weakens our standing and our moral clarity that the Congress has for too long been silent in declaring the events of 1915 as a genocide. As Turkish bombs fall on Kurdish cities, extremist groups backed by Turkey commit war crimes, and hundreds of thousands of civilians flee for their lives, it is surely not lost on Turkish leaders that for decades their campaign of lobbying and bullying has silenced the Congress from the simple act of speaking the truth about the events of 1915.”
Representatives Schiff and Bilirakis then called on their congressional colleagues to, “to join us to make clear that the United States will never be complicit in genocide denial, and that we will call out the atrocities of today and those of a century ago. As we confront continuing mass atrocities around the world, and as we work feverishly to restore calm and end the fighting in Northern Syria, Congress’s silence about the Armenian Genocide of a century ago undermines our moral standing. It must end.”
In a very personal and powerful “Dear Colleague” sent to U.S. House members earlier today, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), the only Assyrian-Armenian member of Congress, stated “Between 1915 and 1923, 1.5 million Armenians and hundreds of thousands of Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians were brutally and systematically slaughtered at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Members of my own family were among those murdered. My mother escaped with my grandmother from Armenia, and my father, an Assyrian Christian, was driven from the Middle East. Both carried the terror of the atrocities of the Ottoman Turks for a lifetime.”
The Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.296), introduced in April, 2019, is a bi-partisan measure which locks in permanent U.S. recognition and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, ends U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial, and promotes public education regarding the crime as a genocide prevention tool. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have spearheaded the Senate version of the resolution (S.Res.150). Over 110 U.S. Representatives and more than 18 Senators are cosponsors of the measures. The full list of current cosponsors of both measures is available at: https://anca.org/ag-cosponsors/
The Armenian Genocide was the centrally planned and systematically executed slaughter of the Armenian people, carried out by the Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915-1923. The Greek and Assyrian / Chaldean / Syriac communities suffered the same fate, with over 2.5 million Christians killed in that time period. April 24th is the international day of commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
The United States embarked on an unprecedented international humanitarian campaign, mandated by Congress in 1916 through the establishment of Near East Relief, saving over 130,000 orphans and some 1 million survivors of the Armenian Genocide by providing assistance valued at over $2.5 billion in current dollars.
The U.S. first recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1951 through a filing which was included in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Report titled: “Reservations to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” The specific reference to the Armenian Genocide appears on page 25 of the ICJ Report: “The Genocide Convention resulted from the inhuman and barbarous practices which prevailed in certain countries prior to and during World War II, when entire religious, racial and national minority groups were threatened with and subjected to deliberate extermination. The practice of genocide has occurred throughout human history. The Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacres of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide.”
President Ronald Reagan reaffirmed the Armenian Genocide in 1981. The U.S. House of Representatives adopted legislation on the Armenian Genocide in 1975, 1984 and 1996. Forty-nine U.S. states have recognized the Armenian Genocide through resolution or proclamation.