West Virginia legislators have recognized the Armenian Genocide on the state level. Gubernatorial proclamations as well as state and local legislation are provided below since 2016.  If you know of other documents to be added to this list – old or new – please send a note to elizabeth@anca.org. We look forward to showcasing them.

West Virginia citizens also played an active role in assisting Armenian Genocide survivors through the Congressionally mandated Near East Foundation, during the years 1915 – 1930.  Learn more about their efforts below, through research prepared by the ANCA Western Region’s “America We Thank You” program.

And finally, review our snapshot of news coverage of the Armenian Genocide in West Virginia press, as we spotlight three articles, prepared as part of the ANCA’s “Genocide Diary” project.  Check back to the Genocide Diary’s West Virginia page for new articles added on a monthly basis.

West Virginia Gubernatorial Proclamations

PROCLAMATION
BY Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

WHEREAS, from 1915-1923 during the Armenian Genocide, one and one-half million ethnic Armenian men, women, and children as well as over one million Greeks, Assyrians, Pontians, Syriacs, and others were massacred as part of the planned complete eradication of these indigenous communities by the Ottoman Turkish Empire during the first modem genocide that still requires justice; and

WHEREAS, prior to the implementation of the Holocaust, in order to gamer support from his followers, Adolf Hitler asked “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”; and

WHEREAS, the Holocaust was the state-sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945 six million Jews were murdered; Roma (Gypsies), people with disabilities, and Poles were also targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic, or national reasons; and millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents, also suffered grievous oppression and death under Nazi tyranny; and

WHEREAS, other cases of genocide include the killings in Cambodia in 1975, the massacres in Bosnia in 1992, the slaughter in Rwanda in 1994, and now in the 21st century, the displacements and deaths in Darfur as well as targeting of religious minorities by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East; and

WHEREAS, the United States House of Representatives has adopted H.Con.Res. 75, declaring  the  atrocities perpetrated by the ISIL against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; and

WHEREAS, by recognizing and consistently remembering the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, and all cases of past and ongoing genocide, we help protect historic memory, ensure that similar atrocities do not occur again, and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution, and tyranny.

NOW, THEREFORE, Be it Resolved that I, Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor of the Great State of West Virginia, do  hereby  proclaim  April 2016 as:

Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month

in the Mountain State in memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, and all other genocides and in honor of all the survivors as well as the rescuers and liberators. I further proclaim that we, as citizens of the State of West Virginia, should work to promote human dignity and confront hate whenever and wherever it occurs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of West Virginia to be affixed.

Done at the Capitol, City of Charleston, State of West Virginia, this the Twenty-Eighth day of April, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand Sixteen, and in the One Hundred Fifty-Third year of the State.

Ray Tomblin Governor
the Governor:
Natalie E. Tennant Secretary of State

West Virginia’s Support for Survivors of the Armenian Genocide

West Virginia was a staunch supporter of Near East Relief (NER), the American-led campaign that quickly sparked an international response with its unprecedented humanitarian endeavor, mobilizing all segments of American citizenry including elected officials, celebrities and laypersons alike, to help rescue victims of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey from 1915-1930.

West Virginia facilitated its NER activities through its state headquarters located at the Red Cross Building in Charleston.

West Virginia’s State Executive Committee was comprised of Dr. Ernest Thompson (Chairman), J.C. Mossiron (Secretary), Fred Staunton, Ernest Howell, Isaac Loewenstein, W.B. Mathews, O.F. Payne, J.D. Steele, M.P. Shawkey, Bishop W.L. Gravatt, Herbet Frankenberger, George S. Laidley, Hon. Virgil Highland, Rt. Rev. P.J. Donahue and Leroy Allebach.

Read the complete fact sheet prepared by America We Thank You.

The Armenian Genocide in West Virginia Press