Report Confirms State Department Effort to Block Committee Passage of H.Res.193

May 28, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the unanimous passage of the Genocide Resolution in the House Judiciary Committee last week, the Committee today released a comprehensive report urging their House colleagues to adopt the measure, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). The report also documents the State Department’s opposition to the measure on the grounds that the Armenian Genocide is cited, along with the Holocaust, and the Rwandan and Cambodian genocides, as an example of past genocides.

The report provides a general overview of H.Res.193, including the background of the legislation, information about genocides throughout the twentieth century and statements submitted by Judiciary Committee members. The documents provides a brief history of the Armenian Genocide, noting that:

“Beginning in 1915, the Islamic Turkish state of the Ottoman Empire sought to end the collective existence of the Christian Armenian population. From 1915 through 1918, during World War I, the Ottoman Empire subjected the Armenian people to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation. The atrocities were renewed between 1920 and 1923. It is estimated that one and a half million Armenians were killed out of over two million Armenians who had lived in the Ottoman Empire. It should be noted that these activities ceased with the institution of the new Republic of Turkey in October, 1923.”

Other specific cases of genocide mentioned in the report include atrocities committed against the Herero Tribe in Namibia; the forced starvation of Ukrainians; the Holocaust; the Burundi Genocide; the Cambodian Genocide; the Genocide in Sudan; the Rwandan Genocide; and the atrocities in Bosnia.

“[H.Res.193] asserts that the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act marked a principled stand by the United States against the crime of genocide and an important step toward ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, among others, will help prevent future genocides,” explained the Judiciary Committee report.

The legislation marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. implementation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

State Department Urges Committee to Cut Armenian Genocide Reference

The House Judiciary Committee report provided evidence of the State Department’s opposition to H.Res.193, including the full text of a letter urging the removal of its mention of the Armenian Genocide.

In a May 1st letter to Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Assistant Secretary of State Paul Kelly claimed that recognizing the Armenian Genocide “could complicate our efforts to bring peace and stability to the Caucasus and hamper ongoing attempts at Turkish-Armenian reconciliation,” adding that, “such declarations do nothing to help the process.”

“Sadly, with this letter, we are witnessing yet another transparent attempt by the State Department to misrepresent its disgraceful policy of genocide denial as genuine concern for peace and stability in the Caucasus,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Today’s troubling revelation only underscores the need for Congress to pass H.Res.193.”

Assistant Secretary Kelley’s reference to the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission represents the most recent example of the Administration using this State Department-funded and orchestrated initiative to undermine Armenian Genocide reaffirmation efforts in the U.S. Congress. Commenting on this point, Hamparian noted that, “Armenian Americans know the State Department’s shameful record on the Armenian Genocide and see this latest development for what it is – a desperate attempt to resurrect its failed and disgraced ‘commission’ in the service of Turkey’s genocide denial campaign.”

Judiciary Committee Members Affirm Support for H.Res.193

During the House Judiciary Committee mark-up of the Genocide Resolution as well as in submitted statements, Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Ranking Democrat John Conyers (D-MI), Resolution co-author Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee urged the Judiciary Committee and the full House to pass H.Res.193.

Chairman Sensenbrenner argued that, “It is important in the light of occurrences of genocide in countries such as Rwanda in the last 15 years, that we as a nation recommit ourselves to this convention and its principles.” Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee concurred, noting that, “By supporting H. Res. 193 we voice our belief that the United States is one of 133 nations who are committed to standing up against the crime of genocide. H. Res. 193 also acknowledges that genocide still plagues our planet in places like Rwanda, which provides a chilling example of the death, devastation, and gruesomeness of genocide.” She went on to cite the heart-wrenching account of a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide.

During the May 21st Committee meeting, Representatives Conyers and Schiff were joined by Chairman Sensenbrenner in voicing opposition to Congressional efforts to remove mention of the Armenian Genocide from the legislation.

“For years, Members of Congress and people within the Administration have shied away from recognizing the Armenian genocide in particular. Yet there is ample historical evidence–including that of American eyewitnesses–that Armenians were forced from their homes on short notice, were sent on death marches across the country, were massacred along the way, and were starved because they were provided no food or water on the march or in the inadequate relocation camps in the Syrian desert. If that is not intentional infliction of death or harm upon a group of people, I don’t know what is,” explained Rep. Conyers.

Rep. Schiff concurred, noting that “This is extraordinarily important, not only for the Armenian community, but it’s important for the international community, that we do not equivocate about the loss of 1.5 million lives, 1.5 million people who loved life as much as we do, who perished, many of them, in the desert, and here is an opportunity to speak with a clear voice about the historic facts.”

No opposing statements or comments were presented by Judiciary Committee members for inclusion in the report.

Click here to read the complete text of the report – including the May 1st State Department letter.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
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