WASHINGTON, DC – In a forcefully worded letter, Armenian Genocide Resolution lead sponsor, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), urged President Barack Obama to stand by his record as a U.S. Senator and his pledges as a Presidential candidate to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We join with Armenian Americans from across the country in thanking Congressman Schiff for his leadership in calling upon President Obama to keep his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“As we approach April 24th, in the wake of the collapse of the Protocols process, it’s clear that President Obama faces a stark choice: He can honor his commitments and his conscience by properly recognizing the Armenian Genocide, or he can remain an accomplice to the Turkish government’s campaign to deny this crime against humanity,” added Hamparian.
Noting that President Obama did not properly recognize the Armenian Genocide in his 2009 April 24th statement because of “possible reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey,” Rep. Schiff pointed out that “this misapprehended the nature of reconciliation, which can never find a sound basis in the denial of genocide, or silence when confronted by denial.” He went on to argue that “Linking the process of the protocols to the Armenian Genocide resolution actually encourages Turkey to not ratify them, since the Turks know that prolonging the process serves to provide opponents of the resolution with a continuing excuse to delay recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”
Earlier this week, 14 Senators issued a similar call, spearheaded by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), urging President Obama to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide in his annual statement. At the Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide Observance on April 21st, over 20 Members of the U.S. House discussed the importance of full and formal U.S. affirmation of this crime.
The full text of Rep. Schiff’s letter is provided below.
April 22, 2010
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
As the primary sponsor of H.Res.252, the Armenian Genocide resolution, I urge you to properly characterize the murder of 1.5 million men, women and children as “genocide” in your statement marking the April 24 anniversary of the start of the genocide.
Ninety-five years ago this month, in the spring of 1915, the government of the Ottoman Empire launched a campaign against its Armenian population. Wholesale massacres, forced marches through blistering deserts, rapes, and looting were visited upon the Armenians of Eastern Anatolia. By the time that the killings ended in 1923, one and a half millions Armenians were dead and the world’s oldest Christian nation had been shattered – with its survivors scattered around the world.
As a Senator, and during the 2009 presidential campaign, you repeatedly spoke of the massacres of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Government as genocide. This was in line with the overwhelming majority of historians, including some notable Turkish historians, and the genocide has also been recognized by many local and state governments here in the United States and by many governments around the world.
Last April you did not use the term “genocide” to describe the events of 1915 to 1923. At the time, some argued that the possible reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey was a reason to hold off on recognition. This misapprehended the nature of reconciliation, which can never find a sound basis in the denial of genocide, or silence when confronted by denial. Now, despite the signing of the Protocols, the Turkish government has given every indication that it will not ratify or implement the agreement and has sought to make resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh issue a precondition for any action by the Turkish parliament. I have repeatedly warned that Turkey would attempt to use the protocols process as a means to prevent the Administration from using the word “genocide” and to try to forestall consideration of a genocide resolution in Congress. That must not be allowed to come to pass. Linking the process of the protocols to the Armenian Genocide resolution actually encourages Turkey to not ratify them, since the Turks know that prolonging the process serves to provide opponents of the resolution with a continuing excuse to delay recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Mr. President, you have always been a leader on the important issue of human rights. I urge you to stand with the ever-dwindling number of survivors, as well as the descendants of others, who survived the Armenian Genocide and continue to suffer the “double killing” of denial, by referring to it as genocide.
Adam B. Schiff
Member of Congress