Rep. Costa welcomes Pope Francis trip to Armenia, highlighting the global importance of his impending visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial. Read the news here. 06/04/2016 -
Rep. Costa takes those who question the timing of U.S. Armenian Genocide legislation to task and commends Germany for its recognition of this crime. Read Rep. Costa's statement here. 04/27/16 -
Remarks offered on the House floor - Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide and honor the lives of 1.5 million Armenians who were killed between 1915 and 1923 by the Ottoman Empire. The Republic of Turkey, sadly, continues to try to silence the voices of the survivors and their descendants around the world, but we will never forget nor will we be intimidated into silence.
Several years ago I told the foreign minister of Turkey, who is now the President, that Turkey must recognize the genocide and put this chapter of history to rest. It is extremely frustrating that Turkey continues to ignore what really happened, but in addition to that, it is very disappointing and unacceptable that President Obama failed once again to call the murder of 1.5 million Armenians a genocide --because that is what it was.
Recognizing the Armenian genocide is not something to be debated. The Europe Parliament has gone on record of recognizing the genocide , and last year Pope Francis spoke of the tragedy that took place, the Armenian genocide . Scholars and historians acknowledge that the systematic killings and deportations that took place constituted a genocide .
I, however, simply do not have to rely on the word of historians. Growing up in the San Joaquin Valley in the Fresno area, I heard stories from my friends and neighbors, the Kezerians, the Abrahamians, and the Koligians, whose families experienced the horrors at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
As we reflect on this day, it is equally fitting to honor the hundreds of thousands of Armenian men and women who bravely began new lives in the United States after witnessing unspeakable tragedies to their families and in their villages. Survivors and their descendants, many of whom settled in California, have become bright examples of what it means to live the American Dream in their own diaspora.
I would like to use this opportunity to tell you of an experience last Friday in Fresno. I had the distinct honor of participating in a wreath-laying event with leaders of the Armenian community and the Armenian National Committee of America, its national chairman, Raffi Hamparian.
I want to take this opportunity to honor someone who brought a sense of justice to those who perished during that time. We want to recognize a true Armenian hero, Soghomon Tehlirian. As a part of Operation Nemesis, planned by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Soghomon Tehlirian assassinated Talaat Pasha, who was the last prime minister of the Ottoman Empire and the orchestrator of the Armenian genocide .
This was an act of justice served on behalf of the Armenian people. Tehlirian was acquitted of the charges by a jury in Germany in the 1920s and later moved to Serbia, and then to San Francisco, California. He died in 1960 and is buried at the Ararat Massis Armenian Cemetery in Fresno, California, which then was the only Armenian cemetery in the country.
I hope my colleagues will join me and the Armenians throughout the Nation and throughout the world in honoring Mr. Tehlirian and to also pay tribute to the 1.5 million lives lost in the genocide --the first genocide in the 20th century--as well as their descendants who live today, for we must never ever forget the history. As Santayana once said: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
04/22/2016 - Rep. Costa participates in ANCA Central Valley Armenian Genocide commemoration and visits the gravesite of Armenian Patriot Soghomon Tehlirian. Read about it here. 04/07/2016 -
Rep. Costa condemns Azerbaijani attacks against Nagorno Karabakh. Read the statement here. 03/03/16 -
Statement submitted for the Congressional Record on Sumgait - Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the twenty-eighth anniversary of the pogroms against people of Armenian descent in Sumgait, Azerbaijan.
Peaceful demonstrations descended into chaos when Azerbaijani rioters attacked Armenian men and women advocating for democracy on February 27, 1988. After three days of unspeakable violence, hundreds of Armenians lost their lives and thousands more no longer had a place to call home.
Undeterred by Soviet oppression, the Armenian community and its dedication to democratic self-determination sparked a movement that finally helped bring an end to the dictatorship of the Soviet Union. The courage demonstrated by the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh in demanding their rights even after all of the adversity is admirable and should never be forgotten.
Today, authoritarian leaders in Azerbaijan continue to aggravate efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group to achieve lasting peace in Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding region. This ancient Christian land has borne witness to several crimes against humanity over the years, and I have hope the United States will take on its moral responsibility to ensure the people of Armenia do not live in fear.
On behalf of the thousands of Armenian Americans living in my congressional district, I invite my colleagues to stand with me and the proud people of Nagorno Karabakh in remembering the lives lost and reinvigorating our commitment to freedom and democracy. 04/15 -
Attended Armenian Genocide community event. 04/23/15 -
Statement submitted for the Congressional Record on the Armenian Genocide - Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide.
In 1915, the Ottoman Empire orchestrated a murderous campaign that resulted in the death of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children, and forced hundreds of thousands into exile. Growing up in the land of William Saroyan, I learned the stories of this tragic time from the sons and daughters of survivors time and time again. Refusal to accurately recognize this crime against humanity as genocide hurts both the Armenian people and the American people.
In the Central Valley, Fresno State University has designated April 24 as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. The unveiling of the Armenian Genocide Monument, the first of its kind on a U.S. college campus, will take place later today at my alma mater and I know that this memorial will serve as a somber reminder of the devastating violence committed against the Armenian people for generations to come.
Achieving peace today requires recognizing the dark parts of our history and moving forward to find a place of understanding and cooperation. It is my hope that Turkey grasps what President Obama has referred to as the burden of unresolved history and takes this important first step in recognizing what is widely referred to as the first genocide of the twentieth century.
Mr. Speaker, it is with great respect that I ask my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to join me in recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide . Acknowledging this atrocity would finally allow a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity. It is time for Congress to end the silence and stand up for the Armenian people. 02/27/15 -
Statement submitted for the Congressional Record on Sumgait - Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the twenty-seventh anniversary of the pogroms against people of Armenian descent in Sumgait, Azerbaijan. My district is home to thousands of Armenian-Americans, many who are the sons and daughters of survivors. As they know well, Azerbaijani rioters started a murderous rampage in response to peaceful protests on February 27, 1988, that forever changed Armenia. During those three days, scores of Armenians were killed, hundreds were wounded, and thousands were forced to leave their homes and livelihoods behind.
As we recognize this tragedy, we should also take this time to commend the people of Nagorno Karabakh on being the first to demand their right to freedom and self-governance from the Soviet Union. Although a small nation, Nagorno Karabakh sparked the democracy movement that ended decades of dictatorial rule in the USSR and eventually led to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Sadly, the Azerbaijani government continues to act as an aggressor today. In November 2014, Azerbaijani armed forces shot down a Nagorno-Karabakh helicopter participating in a training exercise near the cease-fire line, killing the three crew members on board. This aggression is completely unacceptable and further hurts efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution.
Today, I ask my colleagues to stand with the proud people of Nagorno Karabakh in recognizing the anniversary of these tragic events. Let today serve as a reminder for each and every one of us to continue advocating for human rights and democratic freedoms around the world. 1/15/2015 -
Reps. Costa, Pallone, and Schiff attend ANCA Capitol Hill luncheon on Near East Relief; highlight key role of American philanthropy in Genocide aftermath; vow continued efforts to secure U.S. reaffirmation of this crime. Read the statements here. 1/15/2015 -
Reps. Costa, Pallone, and Schiff attend ANCA Capitol Hill luncheon on Near East Relief; highlight key role of American philanthropy in Genocide aftermath; vow continued efforts to secure U.S. reaffirmation of this crime. Read the statements here.