Rep. Sherman urges "Leahy Law" investigation into Azerbaijani War Crimes. Read about it here. 04/07/2016 -
Rep. Sherman condemns Azerbaijani attacks against Nagorno Karabakh. Read the statement here. 03/22/2016 -
Rep. Sherman presses Obama Administration officials on U.S. Armenia aid and trade priorities. Rep. Sherman questions Treasury Secretary Lew on Double-Tax Treaty; USAID Administrator Smith on Aid to Artsakh, Armenia, and Syrian Armenians. Watch video here. 01/26/2016 -
Rep. Sherman sends a letter to Secretary Kerry against a biased Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) resolution, backed by the Azerbaijani government, seeking to undermine the ongoing Nagorno Karabakh peace negotiations. Read the letter here. 07/31/15 -
Rep. Sherman issues press release on Simele Massacre of Assyrians and mentions the ANCA and Armenians.Read the press release here. 05/5 -
Attended National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide banquet in DC. 04/23/15 -
Remarks offered on the House floor in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide (Part 1 of 3) - Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the Armenian genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century.
Now, I know a number of other Members were planning to join me - there has been some confusion as to the schedule - but I hope that Members interested in this issue would come to the floor and join me during the next 30 minutes.
I would like to thank the gentleman from Long Beach, California, Mr. Alan Lowenthal, for being at the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, of which I am the ranking member, so that I can be here on the floor at this important time.
Mr. Speaker, today, it is the afternoon of April 23 here in our Nation's Capital; but in Istanbul, it is night. It is about to be midnight, bringing in the 24th of April. As we are here, at this very hour, 100 years ago, agents of the Ottoman Government, the government ruling the Ottoman Empire, went out into the night to arrest the leadership of the Armenian community there in Istanbul, then the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Soon the rest of the plan went into effect. Having arrested and killed the leadership of the Armenian community, agents of the Ottoman Empire felt free to go into the ancient Armenian lands of Eastern Anatolia and begin a process of ethnic cleansing, to begin a process of mass murder, to begin a process of sending people into the desert to die or simply annihilating them on the spot, to begin a well-thought-out plan of genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century.
Now, I am asked: Why is it so important that we remember this genocide? Well, first, genocide denial is the last step of the genocide itself. When I say genocide denial, you might think that, in recounting history of 100 years ago, that I was simply here to commemorate and to mourn.
Unfortunately, the government of modern Turkey has begun and continued a multimillion dollar plan of threats, of lobbying, of secret money, all designed to deny the Armenian genocide. That genocide denial is the last stage of the genocide that began 100 years ago this hour.
First, in a genocide, a people is destroyed, and then we see the destruction of the memory of their annihilation; but worse than genocide denial being the last step of a genocide, it is the first step of the next genocide.
When Adolf Hitler was talking to his henchmen and they wondered whether they could get away with the total destruction of the Jewish people, he was able to turn to them, as he did, and said: Who remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?
This genocide denial creates the expectation among other evil men that they can get away with genocide. Why do we here, in the United States, kowtow to Turkey's demand that we fail to recognize the Armenian genocide?
Last week, the European Union overwhelming passed a recognition recognizing not only the murders and atrocities that took place in Eastern Anatolia, but also using, as was appropriate, the word "genocide."
A few days before, Pope Francis used the word "genocide" for the first time in the history of the Vatican to commemorate this 100th anniversary of massacres. Over 40 State legislatures in our own country and 20 foreign governments have recognized that the acts of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians in the early 20th century constituted a genocide.
It is time for this Congress to do what then-Senator Barack Obama did and acknowledge that what happened 100 years ago today, what began 100 years ago today, was, indeed, a genocide.
I see that we are joined by the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I yield now to the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce). 04/23/15 -
Remarks offered on the House floor in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide (Part 2 of 3) - I thank the distinguished chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I want to associate myself with his comments and particularly thank him for focusing our attention on the struggles of the people of Artsakh.
Mr. Speaker, one should remember that, with the support of the Government of Turkey, the Government of Azerbaijan has threatened to shoot down civilian airplanes headed to the Stepanakert Airport. Those are the kinds of threats and intimidation that the people of Armenia and of Nagorno-Karabakh face today.
I yield to the gentleman also from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) if he requests. 04/23/15 -
Remarks offered on the House floor in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide (Part 3 of 3) - I thank the gentleman for his comments. Mr. Speaker, I am here on the House floor where we, today, should be voting on a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide. Several of us, I believe including the gentleman from California, introduced the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution, but that resolution is not on the floor today because of the pressures, arguments, and an incredibly expensive lobbying campaign by the Turkish Government.
It was 100 years ago today, as I pointed out in the beginning, that 650 writers, lawyers, poets, doctors, priests, and politicians were rounded up, deported, and murdered by the Ottoman Government. No one should give any credence to the argument that somehow these were a few individuals who were acting alone, that this was not a coordinated governmental campaign. There were 1 million to 1.5 million people who died, and it was because of a premeditated and carefully planned effort by the Ottoman Government.
Now, we are told that Turkey is an ally of the United States and that, therefore, we dare not recognize the genocide here on the House floor.
First, I believe that there is nothing that we could do that is more important for the people of Turkey than to recognize the genocide and to urge them to do so as well. How will Turkey be a great country in the future if it is so focused on lying about its past? What relationship would we have with the government in Berlin if it were engaged in a Holocaust denial? Who in the world would trust American leadership if the government here in Washington were lying or denying slavery? Every nation has a past. Every nation ought to honestly come to grips with that past.
Then we are told that we cannot recognize the genocide because of threats from the Turkish Government.
Never have I been more ashamed of this Congress than in its kowtowing to threats that turn out to be not only outrageous but illusory. Turkey threatened harsh retribution for those countries that recognized the genocide and then took only token steps against Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Argentina, and 10 other countries. Some 40 American State legislatures have recognized the Armenian genocide and have not lost a single dollar of exports to Turkey. The greatest attempt by the Turkish Government to muzzle a national legislature was their effort, roughly a decade ago, to prevent France from recognizing the genocide. They threatened an economic boycott. In the 6 years that followed France's courageous recognition of the genocide, exports from France to Turkey increased fourfold.
The only thing worse than kowtowing to ridiculous and outrageous threats is kowtowing to ridiculous and outrageous threats that turn out to be illusory paper tigers.
Finally, I have to comment on just how outrageous it is for Turkey to be threatening the United States, because look at what we have done for Turkey.
In the years since World War II, we have saved them from communism and the Soviet Union. We disbursed over $23 billion in aid. We prevented the creation of a fully sovereign and independent Kurdish state. We helped build the pipeline that brings them oil today, and we have been the loudest voice in urging that Turkey be admitted to the European Union. After we have done all of that, they say it is not enough and that we have to be accomplices with them in denying and in hiding the first genocide of the 20th century.
This is outrageous. It is time for this Congress to show that America is worthy of world leadership, not only because of our values of freedom and democracy, but because we have the courage to acknowledge the facts that actually occurred, and we are not tempted to gain some sort of illusory alliance advantage by denying the greatest crime that a nation can commit.
I think, as we see the last persons who survived the genocide - or the nieces and nephews of those who died - come to the end of their days, that America should recognize this great genocide.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. 02/28/15 -
Press Release - Congressman Sherman Statement on NKR Parliamentary Election -
Washington, DC Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), a Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement upon the news that an independent team of election observers from the University of California deemed the May 3, 2015 Republic of Nagorno Karabakh parliamentary elections transparent and fair.
Despite remarkably difficult challenges, the people and government of Nagorno Karabakh have managed to develop a democratic society and a vibrant civil society in a relatively short period of time.
As a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have been a strong supporter and consistent advocate for this democracy from its inception. The people of Artsakh have embraced democratic ideals from the time their government was established.
The election observers, comprised of professional non-partisan academics, researchers and experts in the fields of electoral processes and human rights, found that the election process was consistent with international standards and noted the involvement of women throughout the process as equal participants.
I look forward to continued efforts to support Artsakh and strengthen the ties between the United States and the Republic." 02/27/15 -
Statement submitted for the Congressional Record on Sumgait - Mr. Speaker, earlier this month I met with a constituent, Marat Khoudabakhshiev, whose family barely survived pogroms perpetrated 27 years ago today against the Armenian residents of then-Soviet Azerbaijan. He recounted how Azerbaijanis who had lived alongside Armenians for generations suddenly turned violent against them, causing Armenian families like his to flee their homes for safety.
Over three days, February 26th to 28th, 1988, a pogrom was perpetrated against the Armenian residents of Sumgait in then-Soviet Azerbaijan. Armenians were attacked and killed in their apartments and on the streets. Although official figures reported 30 deaths, it is believed that hundreds were murdered and injured as a result of the pogrom.
The violence against the Armenians in Sumgait was prompted by a vote, which took place one week prior by the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh, to unify the region with Armenia--the beginning of the Karabakh movement. In the days immediately after this vote Azeri civilians and local officials in the city of Sumgait held rallies calling for ``death to Armenians''.
On the night of February 27, 1988, Armenian residents in Sumgait were targeted and indiscriminately raped, mutilated and murdered. Calls for help from Armenians were ignored by local police and city officials. Journalists were shut out from the area. The violence raged on for three days before Soviet troops were able to put an end to the pogrom.
Witnesses of the horrific massacres later testified that the attacks were planned, as civilians had gathered weapons and the exits of the cities were blocked in advance to prevent Armenians from escaping. The homes of Armenians were marked so that the Azeri mobs could easily target them.
Unfortunately, the perpetrators of the pogrom succeeded in their ultimate goal--driving out Armenians. Fearing more violence, Armenian families fled Sumgait . Later that year, another anti-Armenian pogrom occurred in Kirovabad, Azerbaijan from November 21st to 27th, which also forced hundreds of Armenians to flee the region. In January of 1990 violent mobs targeted the Armenian community of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the commemoration of the first genocide of the 20th century, the Armenian Genocide. It is imperative that we honor the memory of Armenians killed in the pogroms of Sumgait , Kirovabad, and Baku, as well as the Armenian Genocide. If we hope to stop future massacres, we must acknowledge these horrific events and ensure they do not happen again.
Recognizing the ethnic-cleansing of the Armenians from Azerbaijan is an important step. However, we need to do more--we need to demonstrate to Azerbaijan that the United States is committed to peace and to the protection of Artsakh from coercion.
As the current government of Azerbaijan grows even more hostile towards Armenians, we must call for an end to all threats and acts of violence by Azerbaijan's government against the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.
Congress should strengthen Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act by removing the President's ability to waive U.S. law prohibiting aid to Azerbaijan because of its continuing blockade against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. In 1992, Congress prohibited aid to Azerbaijan because of its continuing blockade against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. However, in 2001, Congress approved a waiver to this provision, and administrations have used the waiver since then to provide aid to Baku. Azerbaijan should not be provided aid from the United States as long as they continue a policy of threats and blockades against Artsakh.
I urge the Administration to remove all barriers to broad-based U.S.-Nagorno Karabakh governmental and civil society communication, travel and cooperation. 02/23/15 -
Rep. Sherman Calls on Secretary Kerry to "show courage" and recognize the Armenian Genocide. Watch the video here.