Rep. Cicilline attends Armenian Genocide community event. 04/27/16 -
Remarks delivered on the House floor - Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide . Over the years in Rhode Island, I have spoken with many Armenian Americans who have recounted the stories their parents or grandparents told them about living through the horror of the Armenian genocide . Even after 100 years, there is still a deep wound in the heart of the Armenian people, particularly as genocide and atrocious human rights violations continue to be used as weapons of war in the 21st century.
Today, hardly a week goes by without news of horrific human rights violations somewhere around the world. The first step to stop these abuses is to acknowledge them for what they are and then to confront them. That is why it is important that the United States Government finally recognize and call the Armenian genocide what it is and what it was: a systematic attempt by the Ottoman Empire to annihilate the Armenian people.
The challenges, of course, continue today for the people of Armenia. All of us know that earlier this month, violence once again erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh. President Serzh Sargsyan called it ``the most wide-scale military action that Azerbaijan has tried to carry out since the establishment of the 1994 ceasefire regime.''
It is critical that the United States remain deeply engaged in resolving this conflict. I recently met with the Armenian Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Grigor Hovhannissian, to discuss relations between our two countries and what role the United States must play to help promote a resolution of this longstanding conflict. I have received briefings on the current situation, and I will continue to advocate for critical American leadership to protect the innocent men, women, and children who are living in Nagorno-Karabakh.
But as we address this current crisis, it is also critical that we continue to push for recognition of the Armenian genocide . History is clear: 101 years ago, 1 1/2 million Armenian men, women, and children were brutally and systematically murdered while living under the Ottoman Empire. That is not an opinion, it is not an interpretation, and it is not an allegation. It is a fact.
In a cable sent to the U.S. Secretary of State on July 10, 1915, the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire confirmed the persecution of Armenians by ``systematic attempts to uproot peaceful Armenian populations, and through arbitrary arrests, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions, and deportations from one end of the empire to other accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage, and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them.''
After 101 years of waiting, it is time for our President and the United States Government to recognize this fact and to acknowledge this atrocity as the first genocide of the 21st century. Armenia is an important friend and ally of the United States, and it is critical that we stand with our friends and honestly acknowledge the evil of the Armenian genocide .
Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would like to leave you with the words of Pope Francis who last year reminded all of us that ``whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester. Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.''
After more than 100 years of waiting, it is time for the United States Government to finally recognize the Armenian genocide as the first genocide of the 21st century. 04/07/2016 -
Rep. Cicilline condemns Azerbaijani attacks against Nagorno Karabakh. Read the statement here. 02/03/2016 -
Rep. Cicilline's opening statement for hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee: "Turkey: Political Trends in 2015."
Thank you to Chairman Rohrabacher and Ranking Member Meeks for calling this important and timely hearing today. The issue of Turkey, its political atmosphere, and its role in the region is critically important. A key ally in the fight against ISIS in Syria, Turkey has its own internal political dynamics that are driving overall military policy. A key factor in this is President Erdogan and the AKPs relationship with the Kurds and other minorities.
Erdogans decision to abandon the peace process with the PKK and undertake a harsh crackdown against Kurds, including civilians, is extremely disturbing. Since July approximately 230 civilians have been killed during the campaign by the Turkish government. Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes and the Turkish military has essentially created a warzone within the Kurdish part of Southeast Turkey. Kurdish political leaders have been rounded up and imprisoned without due process and there has been a widespread crackdown on media and civil society.
In line with its targeting of religious and ethnic minorities, Turkey has also continued its policies of antagonizing Armenia by supporting Azerbaijan in the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. Sadly, the Turkish government continues to deny the very well established history of Genocide against the Armenian people.
Turkey certainly has a right to protect itself from terrorism, but we should all be alarmed by the anti-democratic tactics that Turkey has been using against the Kurds, other minorities, and more widely, against President Erdogans perceived critics.
Turkey was once solidly on the path to democratization and I fear that it has strayed so far that it may not be able to recover. While the United States must continue to support Turkey in the fight against ISIS, and in its absorption of refugees, we do it at our own peril if we let the issues of democracy and human rights fall by the wayside.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on these issues and to hearing the testimony and input of the witnesses here today.
Thank you. 03/13/15 -
Statement submitted for the Congressional Record on Sumgait - Mr. Speaker, this week we commemorate the 27th Anniversary of the horrific Sumgait Pogroms. On February 27, 1988 organized mobs of Azerbaijanis aimed at killing and driving Armenian Christians living in Sumgait from their homes. Police allowed the pogroms to go on for 3 days, during which Armenians were burned alive and thrown from windows.
The Sumgait massacre is a black mark on history and sadly, this event sparked further violence as Armenians would be targeted less than 9 months later in Kirovbad and again in Baku in 1990.
The Azerbaijani Government has shamefully continued to undermine prospects for a lasting peace in the Southern Caucuses, recently they were reported violating the ceasefire and killing several Armenian soldiers on the border.
From the earliest days of its formation, the people of Nagorno Karabakh have fought and died for their independence and held open and transparent elections, a tradition of democracy that the United States should honor and respect.
As we reflect on these horrific outbreaks of ethnic violence, I join with Armenians in Rhode Island, and across the world in remembering these victims and renewing our commitment to justice, independence and finding lasting peace.