|Washington, DC- In a recent letter to U.S. Ambassador Designate to Armenia Richard Hoagland, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) expressed his disappointment in Hoagland’s remarks in which he declines to characterize the mass killings of the Armenians as genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of Illinois.
Sen. Durbin, a long time supporter of Armenian American concerns, has taken the lead on several occasions on introducing legislation on the Armenian Genocide, including recent legislation S.Res. 320, which calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide.
Sen. Durbin’s letter to Hoagland requested information on the Administration’s policy on the Armenian Genocide and urged that these crimes be called by their rightful name- genocide.
“The Armenian National Committee of Illinois is grateful that Sen. Durbin has taken this initiative to call upon our government to investigate this matter. Following the steps of Senator Paul Simon the Armenian community in Illinois is grateful for the stand you have taken on our issues,” commented ANC IL chairman Greg Bedian.
The Armenian National Committee is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANC actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
The text of Sen. Durbin's letter to Amb. Designate Hoagland follows.
The Honorable Richard E. Hoagland
The Ambassador of the United States
United States Embassy
10 Pavlova Street
Dushanbe, Tajikistan 734003
Dear Mr. Ambassador:
I was heartened to learn that during your June 28 confirmation hearing to serve as our ambassador to Armenia you said the killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey that began in 1915 “were of historic proportion ... well-documented, horrific, and horrifying.”
At the same time, I am deeply disappointed that during the same hearing you declined to characterize these events as genocide.
I believe in calling things by their true names, and the attacks against the Armenian community in 1915 were the Twentieth Century’s first genocide, a vicious, organized crime against humanity that included murder, deportation, torture, and slave labor. It is important that the United States Government, including its principal representative in
Armenia, speak with clarity on this historical fact.
During your confirmation hearing, you rightly noted that ambassadors serve as the President’s representatives to foreign governments. They bear a solemn responsibility to carry out the President’s policies accurately and faithfully.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration refuses to call the Armenian genocide by its true name, perhaps out of undue deference to Turkish nationalist sensibilities. This failure to speak honestly about these past crimes against humanity prevents us from promoting accountability for those crimes.
I look forward to learning more about the Administration’s views regarding the Armenian
Genocide, and I would like to know how you would integrate into your Mission Program
Plan efforts to promote an honest dialogue about these crimes, and accountability for them, should the Senate confirm you as Ambassador to Armenia.
Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator