February 27, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell

OVER 60 U.S. REPRESENTATIVES PRESS CLINTON TO DISAVOW DISMISSAL OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE “AS A MATTER FOR HISTORICAL DEBATE”

Bipartisan Group of Legislator Criticize Secretary's Position as "Much Closer to that of the Turkish Government than that of any other Senior U.S. Diplomat in Recent Memory"

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)WASHINGTON, DC – The lead authors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.304, Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Robert Dold (R-IL), today sent a letter, co-signed by 59 of their House colleagues, calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to renounce her recent public mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide as a “historical debate,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In their letter to Secretary Clinton, the signatories noted that her, “historically inaccurate description of the Armenian Genocide as an open question, in addition to the offense it represents to Armenian Americans and other victims of genocide, provides American encouragement to the Republic of Turkey in its shameful campaign of denial.” They also reminded the Secretary that in 2006 she joined with President Obama – then a U.S. Senator – in writing a letter explaining to President Bush that the Armenian Genocide was a “systematic and deliberate campaign of genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. . . The victims of the Genocide deserve our remembrance and their rightful place in history. . . .It is in the best interests of our nation and the entire global community to remember the past and learn from these crimes against humanity to ensure that they are never repeated.” The Congressional letter also quoted then Senator Clinton’s public statement in 2008 when, as a Senator and candidate for the presidency, she affirmed that: “[T]he horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide,” and that “[o]ur common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.”

Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL)“We want to thank Congressmen Schiff and Dold and each and every one of the signatories of this Congressional letter for calling on Secretary Clinton to step back from her historically inaccurate and deeply offensive assertion that the Armenian Genocide is a matter for historical debate,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We remain hopeful that the Secretary, after having allowed this false statement to remain on the record for more than a month, will – in response to this Congressional letter and the Armenian American community’s growing outrage – finally recognize and, to the extent possible, seek to reverse the impact of this sad episode in undermining the advancement of U.S. interests, compromising the promotion of American values, and hindering the diplomatic work of the Department of State.”

Joining Reps. Dold and Schiff as signatories were Representatives: Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Joe Baca (D-CA), Howard Berman (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Bruce Braley (D-IA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Robert Dold (R-IL), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Michael Grimm (R-NY), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Steve Israel (D-NY), Jesse Jackson (D-IL), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), James Langevin (D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Dan Lungren (R-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), James McGovern (D-MA), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Richard Neal (D-MA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), John Olver (D-MA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Edward Royce (R-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA), John Tierney (D-MA), Bob Turner (R-NY), Christopher Van Hollen (D-MD), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

Secretary Clinton is scheduled to testify and answer questions before four separate U.S. House and Senate panels this coming week. The ANCA has called on legislators serving on these committees to question her about her offensive “historical debate” comments, on and the full range of other issues of special importance to Armenian American voters. All four of these hearings will be webcast live, so please watch to see if you elected representatives act on your request.

— Tuesday, February 28th at 10:00 am (EST): Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations

— Tuesday, February 28th at 2:00 pm (EST): Senate Foreign Relations Committee

— Wednesday, February 29th at 10:00 am (EST): House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations

— Wednesday, February 29th at 2:00 pm: House Committee of Foreign Affairs

Visit the ANCA website for links to the individual webcasts — www.anca.org

The full text of the Congressional letter to Secretary Clinton is provided below.

Click here for a copy of the letter the ANCA sent protesting the Secretary’s comments, and posting ten questions on Obama Administration policy on the Armenian Genocide.

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TEXT OF CONGRESSIONAL LETTER TO SECRETARY CLINTON
Dear Secretary Clinton:

We are writing to share with you our deeply held concerns regarding your recent public statement on January 26, 2012, mischaracterizing the Armenian Genocide as a “historical debate,” despite the fact that this thoroughly documented crime is a matter of settled history that President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and you have previously condemned and commemorated on numerous occasions, and rightly so.

The historically inaccurate description of the Armenian Genocide as an open question, in addition to the offense it represents to Armenian Americans and other victims of genocide, provides American encouragement to the Republic of Turkey in its shameful campaign of denial. More broadly, the Administration’s failure to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide falls far short of our common expectation as Americans that our government will always speak honestly on issues of human rights and genocide prevention.

As you and President Obama noted in an appeal by Senators to then President Bush in 2006, the Armenian Genocide was a “systematic and deliberate campaign of genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. . . The victims of the Genocide deserve our remembrance and their rightful place in history. . . .It is in the best interests of our nation and the entire global community to remember the past and learn from these crimes against humanity to ensure that they are never repeated.”

America should never be complicit in genocide denial, which, as we know from painful historical experience, represents the last stage of this horrific crime. We share the principled view you expressed in 2008, when you said that “[T]he horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide,” and that “[o]ur common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.”

We urge you to disavow the ill-considered statement you made during the Town Hall, and to reaffirm your commitment to recognition of the Armenian Genocide. We also hope that the Obama Administration will seize the opportunity to make a statement of clear, unequivocal recognition this April 24th – putting America firmly behind a policy of recognizing genocide wherever and whenever it occurs.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

Sincerely,