WASHINGTON, DC – California Senator Barbara Boxer (D) was joined this week by more than a dozen of her Senate colleagues in calling on President Obama “to stand on the right side of history and unequivocally affirm the Armenian Genocide,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We would like to thank Senator Boxer and her Senate colleagues for their effort to end Turkey’s gag rule on U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide – a morally bankrupt policy that continues to undermine our nation’s credibility in the fight to end the cycle of Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “President Obama has a clear choice to make on April 24th – to emerge as the torchbearer of truth regarding the Armenian Genocide or to remain the Turkish government’s accomplice in the denial of this crime against humanity.”
The letter, circulated by Senator Boxer and sent to the White House earlier today with the signatures of 14 Senators from 10 different states, underscored that, “despite an irrefutable body of evidence, the United States Government has yet to recognize the events of 1915-1923 by their rightful name.” The signatories urged the President, this April 24 “to correct this injustice and finally acknowledge one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century for what it was – genocide.”
In comments to the ANCA, Senator John Ensign (R-NV), a co-signer of the letter, noted that, “This month will mark the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The atrocities that occurred 95 years ago have yet to be recognized by our government as a genocide. In this letter, my colleagues and I urge President Obama to once and for all declare that the lives lost during this dark period were a result of a deliberate and intentional massacre of innocent men, women, and children.”
During his campaign for the White House, President Obama repeatedly promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide, but, since, taking office, has broken his pledge, even going so far as pressuring the U.S. Congress against adopting legislation commemorating this crime against humanity.
The full list of Senators co-signing the letter is as follows: Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee; Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy; John Ensign (D-OH), Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications; Russ Feingold (D-WI), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa; Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Select Intelligence Committee; Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chairman of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation; Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats; Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee; Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce; Charles Schumer (D-NY), Vice Chairman of the Democratic Caucus; Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Energy Committee’s Subcommittee on Water and Power, and; Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chairman of the Environment Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight.
The full text of the Boxer Letter is provided below.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As you know, April 24 marks Armenian Remembrance Day 2010, the ninety-fifth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Despite an irrefutable body of evidence, the United States Government has yet to recognize the events of 1915-1923 by their rightful name. We urge you-on this April 24-to correct this injustice and finally acknowledge one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century for what it was-genocide.
Over the years, this deliberate massacre of the Armenians has been well-documented through eye-witness accounts and confirmed by numerous scholars. Simply put-between 1915 and 1923, more than 1.5 million Armenians were marched to their deaths in the deserts of the Middle East, murdered in concentration camps, drowned at sea, and forced to endure horrific acts of brutality at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
In his memoirs, Henry Morgenthau, the American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1913 and 1916, wrote: “When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact.” And even as it was just beginning, the New York Times reported the mass killing of Armenians as “systematic,” “authorized,” and “organized by the government.”
Tragically, Adolf Hitler even used the Ottoman Empire’s action against the Armenians to justify the extermination of the Jews, saying in 1939, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
The fact is that many have affirmed the Armenian Genocide, and it is long past time that the United States do the same, joining with Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Venezuela, the Vatican and over 40 U.S. states.
While we fully acknowledge the importance of the U.S.-Turkey relationship, we should never, for any reason, fail to call a tragedy of this magnitude by its rightful name. As such – on this April 24 – we urge you to stand on the right side of history and unequivocally affirm the Armenian Genocide.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request.
United States Senator
cc. The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State