October 18, 2019
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel. (202) 775-1918

ANCA Welcomes Reps. Schiff and Bilirakis Latest Call for Passage of Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.296)

Schiff / Bilirakis: “As we confront continuing mass atrocities around the world, and as we work feverishly to restore calm and end the fighting in Northern Syria, Congress’s silence about the Armenian Genocide of a century ago undermines our moral standing.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), lead authors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.296), ramped up efforts to secure passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.296), arguing that Congressional silence of that crime undermines U.S. moral authority in confronting Turkey’s atrocities today, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“We thank Congressmen Schiff and Bilirakis and join with them in rallying bipartisan backing for immediate passage of H.Res.296, permanently locking in official U.S. recognition and ongoing American remembrance of the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Across Capitol Hill and in Congressional districts across the country we are seeing growing urgency for the adoption of H.Res.296, amid the steady expansion of legislative support for this measure from across the political spectrum – hawks and doves, progressives and conservatives, coastal and heartland – even traditional allies of Ankara.”

In a “Dear Colleague” letter distributed throughout the U.S. House earlier today, Representatives Schiff and Bilirakis argued, “As we confront atrocities that are being committed in the present day, it weakens our standing and our moral clarity that the Congress has for too long been silent in declaring the events of 1915 as a genocide. As Turkish bombs fall on Kurdish cities, extremist groups backed by Turkey commit war crimes, and hundreds of thousands of civilians flee for their lives, it is surely not lost on Turkish leaders that for decades their campaign of lobbying and bullying has silenced the Congress from the simple act of speaking the truth about the events of 1915.”

Representatives Schiff and Bilirakis then called on their congressional colleagues to, “to join us to make clear that the United States will never be complicit in genocide denial, and that we will call out the atrocities of today and those of a century ago. As we confront continuing mass atrocities around the world, and as we work feverishly to restore calm and end the fighting in Northern Syria, Congress’s silence about the Armenian Genocide of a century ago undermines our moral standing. It must end.”

The Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.296), introduced in April, 2019, is a bi-partisan measure which locks in permanent U.S. recognition and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, ends U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial, and promotes public education regarding the crime as a genocide prevention tool. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have spearheaded the Senate version of the resolution (S.Res.150). Over 110 U.S. Representatives and more than 18 Senators are cosponsors of the measures.

The ANCA has launched a nationwide online campaign – anca.org/StopErdogan – in support of immediate passage of Armenian Genocide legislation and comprehensive sanctions against Turkey for their invasion of northern Syria. The ANCA has teamed up with the Hellenic American Leadership Council in support the “Countering Turkish Aggression Act of 2019”, spearheaded by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), that would “levy immediate, serious sanctions against Turkey following their invasion of northeastern Syria and their slaughter of the Kurdish people.” In addition to a wide range of sanctions against Turkish President Erdogan and other senior officials, it also prohibits U.S. military assistance to Turkey and blocks President Erdogan and Turkish leadership from visiting the United States. Community advocates can take action by visiting: www.hellenicleaders.com/SanctionTurkey

The full text of the Schiff/Bilirakis ‘Dear Colleague’ letter in support of H.Res.296 is available below and on the ANCA website here.

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TEXT OF SCHIFF/BILIRAKIS ‘DEAR COLLEAGUE’ LETTER

Respond to Turkey’s Actions in Syria – Cosponsor Resolution Recognizing the Armenian Genocide

Dear Colleague:

This week, the House will act on legislation to condemn the actions of Turkey in invading Northern Syria, an act that in just a few short days has displaced hundreds of thousands of Kurdish civilians and risks an escalating tragedy. We join in our determination to use all measures at our disposal to restrain Turkey from continuing their dangerous actions, including the imposition of sanctions.

There is another action Congress can take immediately that would send a strong message – we can pass H.Res. 296 which would recognize and memorialize the Armenian Genocide. H.Res. 296 is a bipartisan resolution with 112 cosponsors that affirms the United States record on the Armenian Genocide and the historical fact of the Ottoman Empire’s genocidal campaign against the Armenian people, as well as the Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and other religious minorities, from 1915 to 1923.

Millions of men, women and children were killed, shot, beaten, starved, and raped as they were marched through deserts and over mountains. When the killing finally ended, 1.5 million Armenians had been killed and millions more had been displaced from the land of their birth.

There is no serious debate among historians that the Ottoman Empire committed atrocities against the Armenians, or that it meets the definition of a “genocide.” Indeed, the facts of the genocide were recorded contemporaneously by American diplomats, including the Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, who transmitted a flood of cables and reports describing the wholesale slaughter of the Armenians.

As we confront atrocities that are being committed in the present day, it weakens our standing and our moral clarity that the Congress has for too long been silent in declaring the events of 1915 as a genocide. As Turkish bombs fall on Kurdish cities, extremist groups backed by Turkey commit war crimes, and hundreds of thousands of civilians flee for their lives, it is surely not lost on Turkish leaders that for decades their campaign of lobbying and bullying has silenced the Congress from the simple act of speaking the truth about the events of 1915. Their actions in the past week suggest they believe they continue to wield a veto in the Congress, despite a variety of actions that have undermined our cooperation, including the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft batteries.

We ask that all Members join us to make clear that the United States will never be complicit in genocide denial, and that we will call out the atrocities of today and those of a century ago. As we confront continuing mass atrocities around the world, and as we work feverishly to restore calm and end the fighting in Northern Syria, Congress’s silence about the Armenian Genocide of a century ago undermines our moral standing. It must end.

To join us as a cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide resolution, please contact Caroline Nicholas (Caroline.Nicholas@mail.house.gov) in Rep. Schiff’s office or Nathan Stamps (Nathan.Stamps@mail.house.gov) in Rep. Bilirakis’s office.

Sincerely,

Adam B. Schiff
MEMBER OF CONGRESS

Gus M. Bilirakis
MEMBER OF CONGRESS

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