WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Howard Berman (D-CA), a leading Congressional supporter of human rights and a longstanding friend of the Armenian American community, has scheduled a vote of his panel on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.252, for Thursday, March 4th, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We want to thank Chairman Berman for his vision and strength in taking this bold step to send the clear message to Turkey that the United States Congress will not be complicit in their immoral efforts to deny truth and justice for the Armenian Genocide,” said Ken Hachikian, Chairman of the ANCA, following his meeting yesterday in Washington, DC with the senior California legislator. “We look forward to working with the Chairman and all our friends on the Committee from both parties to facilitate passage of this critical piece of human rights legislation by both this panel and the full House of Representatives. Our grassroots activists are mobilized to help achieve the success of this effort.”
Hachikian also consulted yesterday with several other Representatives, most notably, Congressional Armenian Genocide Resolution author Adam Schiff (D-CA), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and senior House Foreign Affairs Committee Members Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Ed Royce (R-CA).
The House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted legislation similar to H.Res.252, on a bipartisan basis, in 2000, 2005, and 2007. These past measures, despite their broad-based support, did not reach the House floor for an up or down vote, largely due to strident opposition from the Clinton and Bush administrations fearful of Ankara’s threats of retaliation. President Obama, during his campaign for office, pledged to recognize the Armenian Genocide and specifically voiced his strong support for this exact legislation; his Vice President, Joe Biden, and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, both cosponsored this measure. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has yet to make any comments, either favorably or unfavorably, on the Armenian Genocide Resolution currently before Congress.
Scheduled Vote Culminates Year-Long Grassroots Campaign:
Chairman Berman’s announcement to hold a vote on H.Res.252 comes in the wake of a year-long mobilization of ANCA and Armenian American grassroots activists in support of the measure. These efforts have ranged from local phone banks staffed by ANCA, Armenian Youth Federation, and community volunteers to Washington DC advocacy days – including an ongoing Capitol Hill effort this week focusing on Committee Members and their colleagues from California, New York, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide have been welcomed by a broad range of coalition partners from the Greek, Jewish, Christian and genocide-prevention constituencies. Earlier this week, the ANC of Massachusetts teamed up with Greater Boston area Jewish American groups, Investors Against Genocide and ARAMAC – Massachusetts in launching an online petition – hosted on www.change.org – calling for Presidential and Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
H.Res.252, introduced in March of 2009 by lead sponsors Adam Schiff and George Radanovich (R-CA), and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), currently has over 135 cosponsors. A parallel Senate measure, spearheaded by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and John Ensign (R-NV), has 13 cosponsors.
For more information regarding the Armenian Genocide Resolution, please review the following links:
The text of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252)
The current list of cosponsors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252)
ANCA Talking Points on the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252)