WASHINGTON, DC – In remarks delivered yesterday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (R-MI) sharply criticized the United Nations for caving in to Turkey’s pressure to block a long-awaited exhibit on the Rwanda Genocide because one of its display panels included a reference to the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The New Jersey legislator stressed, in his remarks to his House colleagues, that, “As a representative of the international community, the United Nations must be the leading voice against genocide. That includes all genocides, including the Armenian Genocide. Unless the United Nations takes a stand against Turkey’s denial, its value to the international community is greatly undermined.” Speaking to the dangerous precedent set by genocide denial, he noted that, “Turkey’s policy of denying the Armenian genocide gives cover to those who perpetrate genocide everywhere. If the cycle is to end, there must be accountability for genocide.”
The controversy surrounding Turkey’s objections to the Rwanda exhibit, which had been organized by the Aegis Trust, has been covered extensively in the international media, and was the subject of a powerful New York Times editorial criticizing the United Nations for caving in to Turkey’s objections.
The ANCA, on April 11th, called upon the United Nations to reject Turkey’s historically unfounded and patently immoral objections, and to reverse its recent decision to close the Rwanda Genocide exhibit. In a letter addressed to Kiyotaka Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachkian expressed the “Armenian American community’s profound disappointment over [the] decision to allow the Turkish government to delay – and quite possibly cancel – a United Nations exhibit intended to help ensure that the lessons of the Rwanda Genocide are used to help prevent future genocides.”
The full text of Congressman Pallone’s remarks is provided below.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I am strongly disappointed that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has given in to Turkey’s demands and cancelled an exhibit commemorating the 13th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide.
Turkey, as usual, was offended by references in the exhibit to the Armenian genocide in Turkey during World War I.
As a representative of the international community, the United Nations must be the leading voice against genocide. That includes all genocides, including the Armenian genocide. Unless the United Nations takes a stand against Turkey’s denial, its value to the international community is greatly undermined.
As the 92nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide approaches, Turkey’s recent behavior is yet another example of why it is so important for Congress to reaffirm the Armenian genocide by passing H. Res. 106. Over the past year, Turkey has pulled out of NATO exercises after France affirmed the Armenian genocide. They have threatened U.S. troops in Iraq if the U.S. reaffirms the Armenian genocide. And now they are preventing the U.N. from honoring the victims of the Rwandan genocide. Their denial has no limits.
The United States must never allow crimes against humanity to pass without remembrance and condemnation. As a society, we cannot effectively work to end crimes against humanity without recognizing those that have previously occurred.
Far too many times we have seen the horrible consequences of ignoring genocide. Even after unprecedented humanitarian efforts by Americans, the Armenian genocide had become the “forgotten genocide,” and in 1939 Adolf Hitler exclaimed to his generals to have no mercy by stating, and I quote, “who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
In 1994 world leaders witnessed the Hutu leaders of Rwanda kill 800,000 Rwandans, and did nothing. Today we sit idly by as militias massacre innocent citizens in Darfur; and, again, world leaders do virtually nothing. There are lessons to be learned by history. Unfortunately, Turkey has undermined the intent of the U.N. exhibit to help teach the lessons of genocide inaction.
Turkey’s policy of denying the Armenian genocide gives cover to those who perpetrate genocide everywhere. If the cycle is to end, there must be accountability for genocide. Genocide denial is the last stage of genocide.
Mr. Speaker, when will today’s world leaders stop letting Turkey deny its past? It is bad enough for Turkey to threaten and prosecute its own citizens for discussing these crimes, but to threaten to retaliate against countries that acknowledge the Armenian genocide is appalling and unacceptable. As a global community we must collectively stand for historical truth and recognize the worst humanitarian crimes that we have seen.