WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) welcomed the introduction today of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the U.S. Senate by Senator John Ensign (R-NV) and Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL). The measure is similar to the resolution introduced this June in the U.S. House by Reps. George Radanovich (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI).
In introducing the measure, Senator Ensign explained, “It is as important as ever that American foreign policy reflect our nation’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide. It is my hope that by acknowledging such atrocities we might help avoid them in the future. I applaud the Armenian people for their courage and persistence in bringing this horrible chapter in history to light.”
Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin added, “The Armenian Genocide was the Twentieth Century’s first genocide, a vicious, organized crime against humanity that included murder, deportation, torture, and slave labor. U.S. clarity on this historical fact is of utmost importance and long past due.”
“We join with Armenian Americans across the United States in welcoming the introduction today of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the Senate by Senators Ensign and Durbin – two long-standing supporters of putting our government back on the right side of this human rights issue,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to working with our Senate friends, community partners, and the growing genocide-prevention coalition to build bipartisan support for this measure and to help secure its timely adoption by the Senate.”
The resolution calls upon the President “to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide.” The resolution includes thirty detailed findings from past U.S. hearings, resolutions and Presidential statements on the Armenian Genocide from 1916 through the present, as well as references to statements by international bodies and organizations.
Commenting on today’s Senate introduction, System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian – a leading advocate internationally for genocide recognition and prevention campaigns – said that, “The 20th century has seen the most atrocious form of man’s cruelty against his own creed. The Armenian Genocide was the first in these series of bloodbaths and Darfur seems to be the latest. When you don’t recognize the first, it’s difficult to mobilize against the last. We need to stop being apologists for Turkey’s past crimes that continue in denial and unrepentance. We need to stand in solidarity with those in prison that have been put there for speaking their minds about the denial of the Armenian Genocide and other human rights issues within Turkey.”
The Senate resolution is expected to be referred to the Foreign Relations Committee for consideration. Its companion measure in the U.S. House, H.Res.316, has 145 cosponsors and was overwhelmingly approved by the House International Relations Committee, on September 15th, by a vote of 40 to 7. A second resolution on the Armenian Genocide, H.Con.Res.195, which was introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff and cosponsored by 88 Representatives, was adopted by the Committee in a 35 to 11 vote.
The House resolutions are currently awaiting a decision by Speaker Hastert to either allow them to come before the House for a vote, or – if he seeks to effectively defeat the measures – to keep them from the floor until they expire at the end of the current session of Congress.
Senator Ensign is the Vice Chairman of the Republican Steering Committee, the group that shapes the party’s legislative agenda. Senator Durbin is the Senate Democratic Whip, the second most senior position within his party.