Washington, DC — During a series of “Special Order” speeches broadcast live yesterday on C-SPAN, a bipartisan group of more than forty members of the U.S. House of Representatives commemorated the Armenian Genocide by urging adoption of the Armenian Genocide resolution (H.Res.398) and calling upon Turkey to bring an end to its campaign to deny this chapter in its history, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The Special Order speeches on the House floor were organized by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and John Edward Porter (R-IL). Forty-three Representatives marked the 85th anniversary of the Genocide in floor speeches, with many more expected to take part in local Armenian community observances and the ANCA’s May 2nd Armenian Genocide observance in the U.S. Capitol.
“We would like to thank both Congressmen Pallone and Porter for their leadership in bringing together this bipartisan group of legislators for this solemn observance,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We were, of course, deeply gratified by the forceful statements of so many Representatives against the Turkish government’s ongoing multi-million dollar campaign to deny, cover-up, and downplay the Armenian Genocide. The time has come for the Administration to end its shameful complicity in this campaign and to press the Turkish government to come to terms with the Armenian Genocide.”
Excerpts from the Special Order speeches follow.
Excerpts from Special Order Speeches in Commemoration of the
85th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
U.S. House of Representatives
April 12, 2000
Frank Pallone (D-NJ): To this day, the Republican of Turkey refuses to acknowledge the fact that this massive crime against humanity took place on soil under its control and in the name of Turkish nationalism. Not only does Turkey deny that the genocide ever took place, it has mounted an aggressive effort to try to present an alternative and false version of history, using its extensive financial and lobbying resources in this country.
John Edward Porter (R-IL): Armenians will remain vigilant to ensure that this tragic history is not repeated. The United States should do all that it can in this regard as well, including a clear message about the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide. We do Turkey no favors by enabling her self-delusion, and we make ourselves hypocrites when we fail to sound the alarm on what is happening today in Turkey.
David Bonior (D-MI): I have introduced H. Res. 398, commemorating the Armenian Genocide Resolution and insuring that no one further will deny this brutal chapter in human history. I ask that you join with me as I express my profound sorrow for the lost lives of millions, and as I celebrate the lives of their children and grandchildren who live on today. For by honoring the living, we most faithfully remember those who suffered a merciless death in the desert some 85 years ago.
George Radanovich (R-CA): In fact we have an obligation to educate and familiarize Americans with the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide. As Members of Congress, we must ensure that the legacy of the genocide is remembered so that this human tragedy will not be repeated. Toward that end I have sponsored H. Res. 398, the `United States Training on and Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.’
John Sweeney (R-NY): Mr. Speaker, I call upon the Turkish government to accept complete accountability for the Armenian genocide. To heal the wounds of the past, the Turkish government must first recognize its responsibility for the actions of past leaders. Nothing we can do or say will bring back those who perished, but we can honor those who lost their homes, their freedom, their lives, by teaching future generations the lessons of this atrocity.
Anna Eshoo (D-CA): To deny that a genocide occurred places a black mark on the values that our great Nation stands and fights for. I am proud to be a cosponsor, of course, of responsible legislation that brings the tragedies in Armenia’s history out of the shadows and into the light. . . House Resolution 398, the U.S. Training on and Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution would affirm the U.S. record on the genocide and would very importantly educate others about the atrocities committed and the lessons we can learn from this tragedy against the people of Armenia.
Joe Knollenberg (R-MI): Why then, it must be asked, are so many people unaware of the Armenian genocide? I believe the answer is found in the international community’s response to this disturbing event. At the end of World War I, those responsible for ordering and implementing the Armenian genocide were never brought to justice. And the world casually forgot about the pain and suffering of the Armenian people.
John Dingell (D-MI): The story of the Armenian genocide is in itself appalling. It is against everything our government–and indeed all governments who strive for justice–stands for; it represents the most wicked side of humanity. What makes the Armenian story even more unfortunate is history has repeated itself in all corners of the world, and lessons that should have been learned long ago have been ignored.
Brad Sherman (D-CA): It is also important that the State Department go beyond shallow, hollow reminders and remembrances of this day and step forward and use the word genocide in describing the genocide of the Armenian people at the hands of the Turks. It is time for Turkey to acknowledge this genocide, because only in that way can they rise above it. The German government has been quite forthcoming in acknowledging the Holocaust, and in doing so it has at least been respected by the peoples of the world for its honesty. Turkey should follow that example rather than trying to buy chairs at American universities to deny history.
Bob Filner (D-CA): Today, our NATO ally, Turkey, has repeatedly denied the execution of over 1 million Armenians. The denial of this atrocity has proved beneficial for Turkey’s foreign policy. The murder of Armenians, a massacre based on cultural and religious beliefs, goes on officially unnoticed, and the United States maintains a favorable relationship and strategic partnership with Turkey. Mr. Speaker, because of these reasons, I have joined my colleagues in cosponsoring House Resolution 398, the United States Training on and Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.
Robert Menendez (D-NJ): For my part, I will continue to support assistance to improve the lives of all Armenians; I will continue to remember those who have lost their lives, and continue to commemorate this somber occasion. Lastly, I will continue to hold the Turkish and Azeri governments responsible for their actions past and present. For this reason, I have joined as a cosponsor of House Resolution 398, commemorating the genocide and calling on the President to characterize in his annual message commemorating the Armenian Genocide, the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide and to recall the proud history of the United States intervention in opposition to that genocide.
Joseph Crowley (D-NY): I believe that by failing to recognize such barbaric acts, one becomes complicit in them. That is why as a New York State assemblyman, I was proud to support legislation adding lessons on human rights and genocide to the State education curricula. I am also a proud cosponsor of H. Res. 398, the United States Training on and Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.
Steve Rothman (D-NJ): As the eminent historian Professor Vahakn Dadrian wrote in a brief prepared on the Armenian Genocide last year for the Canadian Parliament, `When a crime of such magnitude continues to be denied, causing doubt in many well-meaning and impartial people, one must refute such denial by producing evidence that is as compelling as possible.’ I share this belief and for that reason I strongly support the goals laid out in H.R. 398.
James Rogan (R-CA): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle tonight to rise in support of House Resolution 398 commemorating the Armenian Genocide. House Resolution 398 is a necessary step for our government to take, a recognition of the historical truth of one of history’s cruelest acts against a great and good people.
Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX): Mr. Speaker, first let me certainly acknowledge the eve of the Armenian genocide anniversary and say to my colleagues that all of us should acknowledge such tragic loss of life.
Mark Souder (R-IN): I first saw a slide presentation on the facts of this terrible genocide about 20 years ago when I was a young businessman in Fort Wayne belonging to the Rotary Club. Mr. Zohrab Taizan made a presentation that will forever be burned into my mind about the terrible persecution; not just discrimination and not just random persecution, but the attempt to exterminate an entire people.
Howard Berman (D-CA): Adolf Hitler, the architect of the Nazi Holocaust, once remarked `Who remembers the Armenians?’ The answer is, we do. And we will continue to remember the victims of the 1915-23 genocide because, in the words of the philosopher George Santayana, `Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’
Nita Lowey (D-NY): We have already learned the lessons of forgetting. The Armenian Genocide, which began 15 years after the start of the twentieth century, was the first act of genocide this century, but it was far from the last. The indifference of the world to the slaughter of 1.5 Armenians laid the foundation for other acts of genocide, including the Holocaust, Stalin’s purges, and, most recently, ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
Rush Holt (D-NJ): Mr. Speaker, the murder of innocent children can never be an act of self-defense, as the Ottomans claimed. As Henry Morgenthau, Sr., the United States Ambassador to Turkey, cabled to the U.S. Department in 1915, the actions of the Ottoman Government constituted `a campaign of race extermination under pretence of a reprisal against rebellion.’
Gary Ackerman (D-NY): Mr. Speaker, I am here today for one simple reason: to recall publicly that eighty-five years ago one-third of the Armenian people were put to death for the crime of their own existence. To deny this reality is to murder them again. We can not, we must not, allow their deaths to be stripped of meaning by allowing the crime committed against them to slowly slip into the mists of lost memory.
Benjamin Gilman (R-NY): I know how important this commemoration is to those Armenian-Americans descended from the survivors of the massacres carried out during World War I, almost eighty-five years ago. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of Armenians died at that time as a result of brutal actions taken by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Cal Dooley (D-CA): Our statements today are intended to preserve the memory of the Armenian loss, and to remind the world that the Turkish government–to this day–refuses to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. The truth of this tragedy can never and should never be denied.
Randy Duke Cunningham (R-CA): It [the Genocide] is a painful reminder that such vicious campaigns against a people have occurred, and that the potential for such human brutality exists in this world. We must remain mindful of the continued repression of Armenians today, and challenge those who would persecute these people. If we do not, future generations may be destined to relive such horrors against humanity.
Tom Davis (R-VA): This genocide, which was preceded by a series of massacres in 1894-1896 and in 1909 and was followed by another series of massacres in 1920, essentially dispersed Armenians and removed them from their historic homeland. The persecution of the Armenian people has left psychological scars among the survivors and their families. No person should have to endure the trauma and horrors that they have.
Matthew Martinez (D-CA): Finally, our government must speak with one voice when it comes to the matter of the Armenian Genocide. While Congress has used the word genocide to describe the actions of the Ottoman Government against its Armenian population, the United States Government has not been as forthcoming. It is time for the President to put diplomatic niceties and Turkish sensitivities aside, and speak directly to the American people and to the world. Genocide is the only word that does justice to the memory of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children that were victimized by the implementation of a deliberate, premeditated plan to eliminate them as a people from the face of the Earth. I stand here tonight to say that they have not been forgotten.
Robert Weygand (D-RI): Unfortunately, too few Americans know much about the suffering of the Armenian people from 1915 to 1923. During these years, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire attempted to eradicate all traces of the Armenian people and their culture from Turkey. To expedite their demise, the government ordered direct killings, instituted starvation initiatives, participated in torture tactics, and forced death marches. By all accounts, this persecution was purposeful and deliberative.
Michael McNulty (D-NY): From 1915 to 1923, the world witnessed the first genocide of the 20th century. This was clearly one of the world’s greatest tragedies–the deliberate and systematic Ottoman annihilation of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children.
Peter Visclosky (D-IN): In order to help preserve the memory of these dark years in Armenian history, I am a proud supporter of efforts by Representatives George Radanovich and David Bonior to promote the use of the recorded history of these events to demonstrate to America’s Foreign Service officers and State Department officials the circumstances which can push a nation along the path to genocide. Their measure, H. Res. 398, the United States Training on and Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, would also call upon the President to characterize this policy of deportation and execution by the Ottomans as genocidal, and to recognize the American opposition and attempts at intervention during this period.
Michael Capuano (D-MA): I personally admire the dedication and perseverance of the Armenian-American community, and their ever present vigil to educate the world of their painful history. In spite of their historic struggles, children and grandchildren of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide have gone on to make invaluable contributions to society, while at the same time preserving their heritage and unique identity.
Sander Levin (D-MI): To me, Mr. Speaker, the Armenian Genocide is not just a footnote in history. It is something that people all over the world feel very deeply about. It is an issue above politics and partisanship. It is a question of morality.
Joe Moakley (D-MA): I am glad to lend my voice, along with so many other of my colleagues today, to show the world how important the Armenians’ story is to our history–and our future. It is amazing how often history will repeat itself, and how often we don’t listen to the past. The memory of the Armenian Genocide, no matter how cruel and brutal, must serve as a lesson to us all to never ignore such actions again.
Michael Forbes (R-NY): There were three prevailing aspects of the Armenian Genocide: the deportations, the massacres, and the concentration camps. The deportations affected the majority of Armenians in the Turkish Empire. From as far north as the Black Sea and as far west as European Turkey, Armenians were forcibly removed and transported to the Syrian Desert. At many of these relocation sites, large-scale massacres were carried out. The few survivors were dispersed across Syria, Iraq, and as far south as Palestine.
Patrick Kennedy (D-RI): Today, brave American men and women serve in our Armed Forces across the globe. They do more than protect nations, they serve as reminders to the world and ourselves of what our country stands for. The Armenian Genocide should also serve as a reminder, of what will happen if we do nothing in the face of potential tragedies. It serves as a reminder that we must do better to protect peace and stability and human rights around the world.
James McGovern (D-MA): I’m very proud to say that Central Massachusetts, and especially the City of Worcester, has been diligent in keeping the history of the Armenian Genocide alive and contemporary. A series of lectures to study genocide issues and present them to the general public have been organized over the past year by the Center for Holocaust Studies of Clark University, the Center for Human Rights at Worcester State College, and the Armenian National Committee of Central Massachusetts. It was my pleasure to participate in one of these forums looking at the tragedy of East Timor and its relation to past genocides.
Sue Kelly (R-NY): In addition, I also encourage my colleagues to join me and the 37 other members who have cosponsored H. Res. 398, offered by Representative Randanovich. This resolution will help affirm the record of the United States on the Armenian Genocide and will play a role in educating others about the atrocities that were committed against the Armenian people. It is critical that we continue to acknowledge this terrible tragedy to ensure that it is neither forgotten nor ignored.
Henry Waxman (D-CA): The pain of these atrocities is only compounded by the Turkish government’s revisionism and denial of the tragic events that took place. This is what Elie Wiesel has called a `double killing’–murdering the dignity of the survivors and the remembrance of the crime. It is incumbent upon us to stand up against these efforts and make United States records documenting this period available to students, historians, and the descendants of those who survived.
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI): Today I rise to call upon the Republic of Turkey, an ally of the United States, to admit what happened. Mr. Speaker, we want Turkey to see its history for what it is so it can see its future for what it can be. Let us all rise today to commemorate the Armenian genocide and hope that events like it never happen again.
Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY): Future generations must be made aware of this historic event in our world history. It is unfortunate that the Republic of Turkey refuses to acknowledges the genocide against the Armenians. Innocent people were deprived of their freedom and senselessly killed because of their religious or political beliefs.
John Tierney (D-MA): It is staggering to even contemplate the idea of one and a half million people having their lives ended so arbitrarily, but we must remember the victims of this genocide as they were, not numbers but mothers and fathers and sons and daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and, of course, friends. Each and every victim had hopes, dreams, and a life that deserved to be lived to the fullest.
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): As a strong supporter of human rights, I am dismayed that the Turkish government continues to deny the systemic killing of 1.5 million Armenians in their country. We must not allow the horror of the Armenian genocide to be either diminished or denied, and we must continue to speak out and preserve the memory of the Armenian loss.
Ed Royce (R-CA): I am a cosponsor of House Resolution 398, which calls upon the President of the United States to provide for appropriate training and materials on the Armenian genocide to all foreign service officers and all State Department officials. Why is this important? Because we want them to better understand genocide wherever it threatens to erupt. We want them to understand the nature and origins of genocide. We want them to help raise the world’s public opinion against genocide, wherever it starts to foment.
Grace Napolitano (D-CA): We cannot let succeeding generations forget these horrible atrocities, nor deny that they ever happened. Therefore it is important for the U.S. Government to recognize the Armenian Genocide and do what it can to ensure that the genocide’s historical records are preserved, just as the artifacts of the nazi holocaust are preserved. By keeping memories alive through preserving history, we and our children can learn about the chilling consequences of mass hatred, bigotry and intolerance. And hopefully, by teaching and reminding ourselves of past atrocities, humanity will not be doomed to repeat them.
Stephen Horn (R-CA): As long as Turkey continues to deny that millions of Armenians were killed simply because of their ethnic identification, we will continue to stand here and take this important opportunity to ensure that the memory of the Armenian Genocide is not forgotten.