WASHINGTON, DC – Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252) lead sponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), has called upon his Congressional colleagues once again to join the broad bipartisan effort to secure passage of this human rights measure, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a strongly worded June 15th “Dear Colleague,” Rep. Schiff cited the overwhelming understanding within Congress of the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide, effectively countering the commonly advanced argument that “now is not the time” to pass the resolution for fear of offending Turkey. “Although there is near unanimity among historians that the events of 1915-23 constitute genocide, the government of the modern Republic of Turkey steadfastly denies that the mass murders carried out by its predecessor was genocide and threatens any nation or group of nations that recognizes it as such,” explains Rep. Schiff, who goes on to note, “For too long, the United States has given in to Turkey’s bullying and Congressional efforts to recognize the victims of the genocide have fallen short.”
The Congressman goes on to detail a broad series of recent actions by the Turkish Government, which have undermined U.S. interests, including a vote in the U.N. Security Council against nuclear non-proliferation sanctions on Iran, the “Gaza Flotilla” incident, and Turkey’s ongoing support for Sudan’s genocidal regime.
The complete text of the Dear Colleague letter is provided below.
Meanwhile, in recent days, several top House Republicans have cited their intention to rethink opposition to the Armenian Genocide legislation, including House Republican Conference Chairman, Mike Pence (R-IN), who also serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman Pence, who voted in Committee against this legislation in March of this year, was joined by New York Republican Peter King in raising the prospect of its adoption. Nevada Congressman Dean Heller (R) and Maine Congressman Michael Michaud (D) became the most recent cosponsor of the H.Res.252, bring the total cosponsor list to 145. A similar measure in the Senate (S.Res.316) has 17 cosponsors.
“We will, in overcoming the remaining obstacles to full and formal U.S. condemnation and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, help elevate the American response to all instances of genocide, and, in so doing, lift our national discourse on this vital issue up from political calculations to the level of a national moral imperative,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Whatever the political climate, it is always the right time for Americans to stand up for the truth.”
DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER BY REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA)
NOW IS THE TIME TO RECOGNIZE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
AS TURKEY SIDES WITH IRAN, WHY DEFEND ITS CAMPAIGN OF GENOCIDE DENIAL?
– Join 143 Members in Honoring the Victims of the Armenian Genocide –
Ninety-five years ago, the Government of the Ottoman Empire initiated a campaign of extermination against the Armenian people. Hundreds of thousands were murdered outright. Others died on forced marches through the searing heat of the deserts of modern-day Syria. Families, towns and communities disappeared in an orgy of collective blood-lust carried out by the Ottoman government. By the time that the killings ended in 1923, one and a half million Armenians were dead and the world’s oldest Christian nation had been shattered – with its survivors scattered around the world.
Although there is near unanimity among historians that the events of 1915-23 constitute genocide, the government of the modern Republic of Turkey steadfastly denies that the mass murders carried out by its predecessor was genocide and threatens any nation or group of nations that recognizes it as such. For too long, the United States has given in to Turkey’s bullying and Congressional efforts to recognize the victims of the genocide have fallen short.
Every Member of Congress, past and present, who has reviewed the facts, who has reviewed the State Department cables and other documentary evidence in our National Archives, who has read the contemporary newspaper accounts of the horrors visited upon the Armenian people, knows that this was genocide. But year after year, proponents of Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide have been told “now is not the time.” Preservation of the bilateral relationship has been allowed to supersede our moral duty to memorialize and honor those who died and to comfort their descendants – our constituents – who fear that the first genocide of the Twentieth Century will be lost to history.
Given Turkey’s recent behavior, this Congress needs to reevaluate whether we should continue to dishonor the dead to placate a false friend. While many Americans remember Turkey’s refusal to allow coalition forces to enter Iraq from its territory in 2003, Ankara’s refusal to assist American forces has grown to embrace an agenda that is at odds with our own.
· Turkey has become one of Iran’s primary defenders and apologists. Last fall, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan told an interviewer said of Iran’s bellicose president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “There is no doubt he is our friend.”
· Recently, Turkey and Brazil tried to frustrate months of careful diplomacy at the United Nations by announcing a sham nuclear deal with Iran that would have allowed the Iranians to continue their pursuit of nuclear weapons. When the international community, including Russia and China, pressed ahead with a new round of sanctions, Turkey was one of only two votes against the plan in the Security Council.
· Turkey has also turned on its ally, Israel. The two countries used to enjoy close relations, but under the government of Prime Minister Erdogan, Turkey has launched numerous rhetorical fusillades against Israel. Erdogan, who in the past has talked of the “Jewish controlled international media,” has called Israel the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East.
· Turkey was the main instigator of the recent “Gaza flotilla” and, thus, bears responsibility for the tragic events of May 31.
· Ankara supports Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, whose government perpetrated the Darfur genocide and who once harbored Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda leadership. Bashir, who recently was declared the winner of an election widely seen as rigged, is the only sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
This is not the behavior one expects from a friend, and Turkey can no longer be allowed to work against us in numerous international fora, but then assert that our “alliance” cannot withstand an expression of remembrance for one and a half million souls.
Amazingly, a handful of Genocide survivors is still with us. The youngest of them are in their nineties and they have only one wish – to see their families’ suffering properly memorialized in their lifetimes. Now is the time to reassert our moral leadership in the fight against genocide, and to honor the memory of a million and a half innocent men, women and children.
I urge you to join me in fulfilling our obligation to remember. To cosponsor H. Res. 252, please contact Tim Bergreen of my staff at 5.4176 or at Timothy.Bergreen@mail.house.gov.
ADAM B. SCHIFF
Member of Congress