WASHINGTON, DC – Members of Congress joined with Armenian Americans from throughout the U.S. tonight at the Capitol Hill observance of the Armenian Genocide Centennial, an evening of moving tributes and equally powerful calls for the President Obama to reject Turkey’s gag-rule and press Ankara toward a truthful and just resolution of this crime against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Hundreds gathered for the solemn observance in the historic Cannon Caucus Room, organized by the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues with the participation of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, the Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Armenian American organizations. Master of Ceremonies, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, expertly guided the evening which included poignant remarks by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and over 20 U.S. Representatives, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Robert Dold (R-IL) and Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Crescent Hardy (R-NV), Jim Costa (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Tim Walz (D-MN), Danny Davis (D-IL), John Sarbanes (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Judy Chu (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Dave Brat (R-VA). Other Members who attended the observance did not offer remarks, including Representatives Joe Heck (R-NV), Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA), Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), Rep. John Conyers (D-CA) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA).
“100 years have passed since the start of the Armenian Genocide and the time is long past due to acknowledge the atrocities committed against the Armenian people for exactly what they were – genocide,” said Congressman Pallone. “Tonight, as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, we remember the lives of the one and a half million Armenians who were needlessly slaughtered by Ottoman Turks during the 20th century’s first genocide. As we join together to renew our commitment to prevent and end injustices where they exist, Turkey must also come to terms with its own history and prevent a shroud of denial from covering up one of the most horrific tragedies in world history.”
“Whether the Armenian Genocide happened is not a matter of opinion — it is established fact,” said Congressman Dold. “As the world’s greatest advocate for freedom, the United States’ has an obligation to fully acknowledge one of humanity’s most horrific crimes. An unequivocal statement of recognition would not only reinforce our own resolve, but it would also help prevent future genocides by reaffirming that we will not tolerate affronts to human dignity.”
The convocation for the evening was offered by His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern United States and the closing prayer was offered by the Very Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Church in Wynnewood, PA. Moving remarks were offered by Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tigran Sargsyan and Nagorno Karabakh Representative to U.S. Robert Avetisyan. ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian and Armenian Assembly Board Member Annie Totah shared their message with attendees.
This year’s Capitol Hill Observance included a special focus on American philanthropy during the Armenian Genocide. Featuring high quality reproductions of archival photographs and documents, the 27-panel exhibition – titled, “They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief” – chronicled the launch and legacy of the Near East Foundation (formerly known as Near East Relief). As America’s first collective display of humanitarian aid overseas in direct response to reports of genocidal acts against Armenians and other minorities of the Ottoman Empire, NEF’s relief efforts over fifteen years raised more than $116 million (over $2 billion in today’s dollars) and mobilized hundreds of volunteers to save more than one million lives and care for 132,000 orphans.
Complete coverage and excerpts from the evening will be available shortly.