03/04/10 - Remarks offered during House Committee on Foreign Affairs markup of H. Res. 252 - Thank you. Mr. Chairman. In September 2000 I had the privilege of chairing a hearing on the Armenian Genocide. It was a 4-hour hearing, the first comprehensive hearing this House ever held on the Armenian Genocide. The testimony we heard that day and the accounts of the atrocities that I have read in articles and books both before and after that hearing, including the book by Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, who was our Ambassador at the time, deeply saddened me, and I think anyone who was at that hearing or even read some of the articles about the genocide would be moved to tears about what they have read or seen. I would like to extend my condolences to all of those here and others who have lost family members to the genocide.
The existence of an aggressive Turkish Government sponsored campaign of genocidal denial was and is deeply shocking and it is alarming. In fact, the Turkish Government criminally prosecutes people for acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. Congress would certainly speak out if Germany denied the Jewish Holocaust or if the Russian Government put people in jail for mentioning Ukrainian Holodomor.
The Turkish Government?s denial of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians is really an outrage. Unfortunately, some have gotten used to it or perhaps become desensitized to this assault on the
dignity of the Armenian people. The issue behind this resolution, Mr. Chairman, is, when another government denies genocide, whether Congress has a responsibility to insist that our Government at least acknowledge it. I believe that we do.
We have a record of recognizing genocide?the Holocaust, the Ukrainian infamous famine wrought by Stalin, the Cambodian and the Darfur genocides. In 2005, I was the author of H. Res. 199, which recognized the Srebrenica genocide, and which had a very beneficial effect in clearing the political climate in Bosnia.
The Armenian tragedy was by any measure a genocide. In 1915, there were about 2 million Armenians living in what was then the Ottoman Empire. They were living in a region they had inhabited for 2,500 years. By 1923, well over 90 percent of these Armenians had disappeared. Most of them, as many as 1.5 million, were dead. The remainder had been forced into exile. A few of those exiled are here in the audience today.
The Government of the Empire, whose leaders were members of the movement known as the Young Turks, called this campaign against Armenians a mass deportation rather than a mass murder, but the United States Ambassador to Turkey at the time, Henry Morgenthau, called it a ??campaign of race extermination.??
The British, French and Russian Governments accused the Young Turk Government of a crime against humanity, the first time in history that that charge was ever made by one state against another. Though after World War I the term genocide didn?t exist, the world understood what had been done to the Armenians.
The Government of Turkey convicted a number of high-ranking Young Turk officials for their role in what the Turkish Government indictment called ??the massacre and destruction of the Armenians.?? Unfortunately, the Turkish Government later changed course.
For Armenians everywhere, the Turkish Government?s campaign of genocide denial is a cruel slap in the face. It is not only the genocide of 90 years ago, but also the aggressive, ongoing official denial that brings us here today.
I want to note here that this House, this Congress, the Government of the United States, is a friend to Turkey, but friends don?t let friends commit crimes against humanity or act as accomplices in their denial after they have been committed.
I would recall to you that, in judging the post-World War I case against the prime movers of the genocide, the Turkish President of the court stated, and I quote, ??The perpetuation of such atrocities is not only incompatible with Ottoman?s laws and the constitution, but also is contrary to the dictates of the Muslim faith.??
I admire him for saying this. He said this for the good of his country, and his words were truly patriotic. We could take some comfort in the growing willingness of some Turkish citizens, especially scholars, journalists and writers, to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
In standing for truth against their government, these brave men and women are standing for Turkey?s real interests and for the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation which can only build on an honest acknowledgment of the past by all sides and by all governments.
Again I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for bringing this resolution to
Communications with Foreign
For Turkey and/or Azerbaijan:
(as reported by the U.S. Department of Justice - www.fara.gov)
2/12/2009 - Robert Mangas of the Dickstein Shapiro, LLP emailed Cate Benedetti regarding Mercan delegation visit..
2/13/2009 - Robert Mangas of the Dickstein Shapiro, LLP emailed Lindsey Plumley regarding Mercan delegation visit..
2/17/2009 - Robert Mangas of the Dickstein Shapiro, LLP emailed Lindsey Plumley regarding Mercan delegation visit..
3/1/2010 - Robert Mangas of the Dickstein Shapiro, LLP emailed Kacy Wandel Turkish Delegation Meeting.
3/1/2010 - Robert Mangas of the Dickstein Shapiro, LLP emailed Mark Milosch Turkish Delegation Meeting.