May 6, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC – Over 25 Senate and House Members joined Armenians around the world last week in commemorating the 89th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, during “Special Order” remarks on the House floor and Congressional statements made in the weeks surrounding April 24th, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.) Congressional Armenian Caucus co-chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) organized the April 27th House commemoration, providing Representatives with an opportunity to offer 5-minute statements in remembrance of the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915-1923. Senators and House Members also submitted additional statements in the days surrounding April 24th. “We want to thank Congressman Pallone for taking the leadership every year in hosting this Special Order,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We appreciate, as well, all the hard work by Armenian American organizations and individuals throughout the U.S., educating their federal, state and local legislators about the Armenian Genocide and the terrible consequences of its denial.” During their statements, many Senate and House members urged support for Legislation marking the 15th anniversary of the U.S. implementation of the U.N. Genocide Convention. H.Res.193 and S.Res.164 cite the importance of learning the lessons of the Holocaust as well as the Armenian, Cambodian and Rwandan genocides to prevent similar tragedies in the future. The House version of the measure has 111 cosponsors and was adopted unanimously by the Judiciary Committee last May. Its Senate counterpart currently has 39 cosponsors. Excerpts from the Senate and House floor speeches follow.

SENATORS (listed in alphabetical order)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA): This week marks the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Between 1915 and 1923, the Ottoman Empire conducted the first Genocide of the 20th Century, killing an estimated 1.5 million Armenians and displacing thousands more. The campaign was so devastating that at the beginning of World War I, there were 2.1 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Following the Genocide, fewer than 100,000 Armenians remained. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI): The international community has a long way to go in punishing and especially, preventing genocide. But we have made the first steps. As we move forward, we must learn the lessons of Armenia’s genocide. Can we recognize the rhetorical veils of murderous leaders, thrown up to disguise the agenda at hand? Have we, the international community, learned that we must not stand by, paralyzed, as horrors occur, but work collectively to prevent and stop genocides from occurring? We owe the victims of the Armenian genocide this commitment. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): I am proud to represent an Armenian community of half a million in my great State of California. They are a strong and resilient community, taking strength in the tragedies of the past and the promise of a better tomorrow. This community is leading the effort to preserve the memory of the Armenian Genocide not only for future generations of Armenian Americans, but, indeed, for all Americans and all citizens of the world. I urge my colleagues to join me in remembering the first genocide of the 20th century. Through our commemoration of this tragedy, we make clear that we will not tolerate mass murder and ethnic cleansing ever again and we will never forget. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI): I believe the highest tribute we can pay to the victims of a genocide is by acknowledging the horrors they faced and reaffirming our commitment to fight against such heinous acts in the future. In commemorating the tragedy of the genocide today, I would also like to recognize the fact that yesterday Canada’s House of Commons, took the courageous step of officially recognizing that the events initiated on April 24, 1915, were in fact a genocide and crime against humanity. It is my hope that all people of goodwill will join in calling this tragedy by its correct name–a genocide. I hope that our colleagues will join me in commemorating this tragedy and vowing to honor and remember the innocent victims of the Armenian genocide. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI): Thus, as we reflect on this atrocity, let us call for our own country to recognize the Armenian Genocide, just as my own State of Rhode Island has done, and as the parliaments of Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Russia, and Sweden have done over the past 6 years. Let us also pledge never to ignore atrocities by those who claim the legitimacy of government. We must never ignore and we will never forget.

REPRESENTATIVES (listed in alphabetical order)

Rep: Rob Andrews (D-NJ): The senseless crime of genocide is one of the most reprehensible acts that can be committed by man. To attempt eradication of an entire population based on a misguided prejudice is absolutely vile, and the United States should do everything in its power to try and prevent such atrocities from happening in the future. Only by explicitly defining genocide and ensuring that all cases of genocide throughout history are appropriately identified can we effectively deter this crime. Particularly at this time of heightened vigilance around the world, it is absolutely imperative that America take a strong stance against the most troubling of all terrorist acts, mass killings. Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA): It is important to recognize the historical atrocities perpetrated against the Armenians. We must teach our children about the fear, torture, mass graves, and expulsions of the Armenian people. Through education and commemoration, our children can grow up to be better citizens and better Americans. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): Mr. Speaker, tonight I rise to remind the world that the 24th of April marked the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a systematic and deliberate campaign of genocide of the Ottoman Empire. Also, it marked yet another year with the U.S. formally not recognizing the atrocities that occurred. Considering how well documented the genocide is in the U.S. archives and through an overwhelming body of first-hand, governmental, and diplomatic evidence, this is nothing less than a disgrace. Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL): The Armenian Genocide is a historical fact, despite the efforts of some to minimize its scope and deny its occurrence. Many of the survivors of the genocide came to the United States, where they and their descendants have contributed to our society in countless ways. In my district, there is a significant population of Armenian survivors and their families that showed heroic courage and a will to survive. With faith and courage, generations of Armenians have overcome great suffering and proudly preserved their culture, traditions, and religion and have told the story of the genocide to an often indifferent world. As Members of Congress and people of conscience, we must work to overcome the indifference and distortions of history, and ensure that future generations know what happened. Rep Cal Dooley (D-CA): Our statements today are intended to preserve the memory of the Armenian loss, and to remind the world that the Turkish government–to this day–refuses to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. The truth of this tragedy can never and should never be denied. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ): Even more disturbing are the governments, institutions, scholars, and individuals who deny the enormity of these crimes against humanity. It is inconceivable that individuals and governments continue to ignore the substantial evidence–including numerous survivor accounts, photodocumentaries, and official documents in the archives of the United States, Britain, France, Austria, and the Vatican–that prove these atrocities took place. It is also frustrating that some rationalize these crimes or refuse to recognize this premeditated ethnic cleansing as genocide. Michael Honda (D-CA): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask the Members of the House to join us in recognizing past instances of genocide and reaffirming our Nation’s commitment to never again allow the perpetration of such atrocities anywhere on this earth. House Resolution 193 appropriately reaffirms America’s obligation to international genocide conventions, and underscores the importance of recognizing past crimes against humanity, including the Holocaust and the Armenian, Cambodian, and Rwandan genocides. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): This genocide is another significant example of the injustice, torture, pain, and death that grows out of intolerance, cruelty, and hatred. There are still a great number of survivors of the genocide in America and many of their children and grandchildren reside throughout the country. On this day we join them in remembering and acknowledging the heinous act that victimized their families. If we let such atrocities be forgotten, then we are in danger of letting them be repeated. Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI): Mr. Speaker, for myself and my constituents, I rise today to urge those who deny this genocide to accept it as fact. Only then can we move forward and stop these atrocities from repeating themselves over and over again. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): Without recognition and remembrance, this atrocity remains a threat to nations around the world. I’ve often quoted philosopher George Santayana who said: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And to remember, we must first acknowledge what it is–Genocide. Rep. George McGovern (D-MA): Mr. Speaker, last May, the House Committee on the Judiciary reported out House Resolution 193. We have been waiting for nearly 1 year now for the Speaker of the House to schedule this bill for a debate and for a vote, and I would urge at this time that the Speaker schedule this bill as quickly as possible so that the House of Representatives may join those nations and those scholars who affirm the Genocide Convention and recognize the Armenian Genocide and Holocaust as genocides of the 20th century. Michael McNulty (D-NY): From 1915 to 1923, the world witnessed the first genocide of the 20th century. This was clearly one of the world’s greatest tragedies–the deliberate and systematic Ottoman annihilation of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children. Furthermore, another 500,000 refugees fled and escaped to various points around the world–effectively eliminating the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA): To deny this truth is to tarnish the memories of the millions of Armenians who lost their lives to ethnic cleansing. As a member of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, I have joined my colleagues in sending a letter to President Bush urging him to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide during his April 24th commemoration address. By drawing attention to the legacy of this genocide, we can strengthen our resolve to prevent future human tragedies of this kind. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): Mr. Speaker, the unfortunate thing is, although so many other countries and so many of our own States have recognized the Armenian genocide, we in the Congress continue not to recognize it. I think it is important that we do so. The gentleman from California (Mr. Schiff) was here earlier, and he mentioned the House Genocide Resolution, H. Res. 193, which has now 111 cosponsors. The resolution was adopted unanimously by the House Committee on the Judiciary on May 21, 2003, but it has not been brought to the floor for consideration. I would urge the Speaker and the leaders on the Republican side of the aisle to bring this resolution to the floor. It is important that they do so. Adam Schiff (D-CA): For those of us who care deeply about the issue, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that our Nation, which has championed liberty and human rights throughout its history, is not complicit in Ankara’s effort to obfuscate what happened between 1915 and 1923. Worse still, by tacitly siding with those who would deny the Armenian genocide, we have rendered hollow our commitment to never again let genocide occur. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): It is time for Turkey to acknowledge this genocide, because only in that way can the Turkish government and its people rise above it. The German government has been quite forthcoming in acknowledging the Holocaust, and in doing so it has at least been respected by the peoples of the world for its honesty. Turkey should follow that example rather than trying to deny history. Mark Souder (R-IN): Despite a compelling record proving the massacre of millions of human beings, there are still individuals, organizations, and governments that deny what happened 89 years ago. Given the United States’ longstanding dedication to combating human rights abuses, it is shocking that the United States government has not officially recognized the savage butchery of one of the 20th Century’s worst human rights violations. Rep. John Tierney (D-MA): I rise today to speak on one of the most unspeakable acts that ever came to pass. Beginning in 1915, innocent and unsuspecting Armenians of all ages were led by Ottoman Empire officials from their villages to their brutal death. Such atrocities endured for eight years. By 1923, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were massacred. Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN): Sadly, there are some people who still deny the very existence of this period which saw the institutionalized slaughter of the Armenian people and dismantling of Armenian culture. To those who would question these events, I point to the numerous reports contained in the U.S. National Archives detailing the process that systematically decimated the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. However, old records are too easily forgotten–and dismissed. That is why we come together every year at this time: to remember in words what some may wish to file away in archives. This genocide did take place, and these lives were taken. That memory must keep us forever vigilant in our efforts to prevent these atrocities from ever happening again Diane Watson (D-CA): Turkey’s failure to acknowledge the truth is a burden on the alliance between our two nations. I would say to our President, it should be called as it is, a crime of genocide. So I call upon the President of the United States to uphold the commitment he made back when he was running for President and put the United States of America on record acknowledging the Armenian genocide. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA): We must identify ways to facilitate the lifting of the blockade against Armenia and encourage a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabagh. We must help Armenia continue to flourish as a burgeoning democracy, extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to strengthen her economy, and stand ready to help maintain her military strength. Let us resolve ourselves to ensure that the coming year will be one that brings full recognition of the genocide that took place, and peace to the region and the memory of those who perished. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): Like communities that survived the Nazis efforts at extermination, the Armenian community today is often faced by those who deny the Turkish effort to commit genocide ever occurred. Despite records and accounts preserved in our own National Archives, there have been those bent on erasing this horrible memory from the annals of history. We will not let that happen. That is why today’s commemoration here in the United States Congress and those going on this week is so crucial.


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
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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