May 8, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives joined Armenians around the world in commemorating the 88th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide during April 9th “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-chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) organized the April 9th 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 subsequent weeks.

“We want to thank Congressmen Knollenberg and Pallone for their leadership this April in hosting this Special Order,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We appreciate, as well, all the hard work of Armenian American organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. committed to educating their elected officials about the Armenian Genocide and the terrible consequences of its denial.”

During their statements, many House members urged support for H.Res.193, marking the 15th anniversary of the U.S. implementation of the U.N. Genocide Convention. The legislation cites 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. Over 100 Members of Congress have pledged their support for the legislation.

Excerpts from the Senate and House floor speeches follow.


Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD): Despite this testimony from U.S. diplomats who were witness to the events, and the abundance of evidence documenting the Armenian genocide, the argument continues to be made in some quarters that it never occurred. . .Coming to terms with history is a difficult and painful process, as the experiences of South Africa and the countries of the former Soviet Bloc have shown. But we have also learned how pernicious attempts to falsify history are. Not only do they insult the memory of those who suffered or perished, but they leave us all more vulnerable because they weaken the fabric of our common humanity.

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI): Mr. President, today people around the world are pausing to remember and honor the victims of the Armenian genocide , which began 88 years ago in what is now Turkey. Between 1915 and 1923, one-and-a-half million Armenians–roughly 60 percent of the total Armenian population–were systematically murdered at the hands of agents of the Ottoman Empire, and hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homes. At that time, the word “genocide” had not yet entered our vocabulary. Now, 88 years later, this brutal episode of violence against the Armenian people is considered to have been the first, but unfortunately not the last, genocide of the 20th century.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): We must make clear, in the 21st century, that mass murder cannot be tolerated, will not be tolerated. We cannot afford to forget or hide events such as the Armenian Genocide, or another group in another place will experience the same persecution and the same systematic intent to destroy an entire people. This is why we must commemorate this horrific period in the history of the Armenian people each and every year.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI): Each year during my tenure in the Senate, I have spoken out about the Armenian genocide. I believe the highest tribute we can pay to the victims of any genocide is by acknowledging the horrors they faced and reaffirming our commitment to fight against such heinous acts in the future. It is important that we take the time to remember and honor the victims, and pay respect to the survivors, especially as that generation passes on.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) [in a statement issued on April 24th]: As sometimes happens in instances of genocide, others raise question about its historical accuracy. A great tragedy was suffered by the Armenian people, and all nations must understand the truth. If we are to prevent genocide, we must recognize the reality of genocide, and where it has been committed in our world. We can start by recognizing the Armenian Genocide.


Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): This resolution is an extremely important and timely measure, in my opinion. It not only speaks to the immeasurable wrongs done to the Armenian people, but also to the Jewish people during the Holocaust and the genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia. In the last two years, we have all seen example after example of the disregard for human life. This resolution would reaffirm that Congress recognizes the horrors of the last century, and strives to prevent further genocides through vigilant education.

Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA): I rise to announce the introduction of H. Res. 193, legislation that enjoys the support of over 64 bipartisan original cosponsors and commemorates the 15th anniversary of the United States implementation of the Genocide Convention. The month of April marks the commemoration of one of the saddest chapters in world history, the Armenian genocide. We join with Armenian Americans across the Nation to mourn the loss of so many innocent lives. This important human rights legislation will put Members of Congress on record as recognizing the Armenian genocide.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): I will soon introduce a resolution, along with my colleague Mr. Radanovich and several other Members of Congress, that recognizes this important step taken by the United States 15 years ago, to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, among others, will not be forgotten. . . .Let us not minimize the deliberate murder of 1.5 million Armenians. Let us not equivocate. Let us not temporize. Let us instead pay homage to the memory of those innocent victims and honor the courage of the survivors. Let us call genocide, genocide.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): We know this [the Armenian Genocide] happened, and we know how many people were killed and we know how it was done and by whom. Yet the official U.S. government position on this atrocity is that it was not a genocide, that there was no deliberate attempt by the Ottoman Turks to wipe-out the Armenian population. We here on the floor today know better. And we know that by denying the truth surrounding this tragic chapter of history, we are only providing cover for the next genocide to begin.

Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL): The orchestrated extermination of people is contrary to the values the United States espouses. We are a nation which strictly adheres to the affirmation of human rights everywhere. No one can erase a horrendous historical fact by ignoring what so many witnessed and survived. Recognition and acceptance of misdeeds are necessary steps toward its extinction.

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY): April 24–two weeks from today–will mark the 88th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, when the government of Turkey systematically massacred 1.5 million Armenians and exile over one million more. This unanswered event set a historical precedent that has allowed governments to continue to commit crimes against humanity without remorse or punishment. While we are fighting a war in Iraq, I believe that now is the time for our government to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide and to send a strong message to the world that crimes against humanity will not be tolerated. That is why I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Congressional Genocide Resolution. . .

Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA): More than one million people of Armenian descent live in the United States. We must recognize and honor their personal histories, as well as our collective world history. Our children need to learn the truth–that during World War I this world experienced the Armenian Genocide, genocide is wrong, and it is wrong to deny the occurrence of any genocide. Our nation must serve as the example of acknowledging and condemning such horrific actions.

Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ): Our statements today are intended to preserve the memory of the Armenian loss and to honor those descendants who have overcome the atrocities that took their grandparents, children and friends. We mark this anniversary each year to remind our nation and teach future generations about the horrors of genocide and oppression endured by the Armenian people.

Rep. Cal Dooley (D-CA): The Ottoman Turkish Empire between 1915 and 1923 massacred one and a half million Armenian people. More than 500,000 Armenians were exiled from a homeland that their ancestors had occupied for more than 3,000 years. A race of people was nearly eliminated. It would be an even greater tragedy to forget that the Armenian Genocide ever happened. To not recognize the horror of such events almost assures their repetition in the future.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA): Over the course of 8 years, beginning in 1915, Armenian communities were terrorized and systematically destroyed. One and a half million men, women, and children were murdered and nearly one million other were deported. If the world had cried out at the bloodshed of Armenians, it may not have been silent during the Holocaust. The road from Armenia to Auschwitz was direct. Only by shedding light on this dark chapter of history, can we vow once more that genocide will never again go unnoticed or unmourned.

Rep. James McGovern (D-MA): The single greatest obstacle to the official recognition of the Armenian Genocide is the Republic of Turkey. In spite of overwhelming evidence documenting the Genocide–most of it housed at the United States Archives–modern-day Turkey continues to pursue a campaign to deny and to ultimately erase from world history the 1.5 million victims of Ottoman Turkey’s deliberate massacres and deportations of the Armenian people between 1915 and 1923. Successive Turkish governments have also deliberately destroyed the immense cultural heritage of Armenians in Turkey, carrying out a systematic campaign to erase evidence of the historic Armenian presence in Eastern Anatolia.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA): We mark this anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide because this tragedy for the Armenian people was a tragedy for all humanity. It is our duty to remember, to speak out and to teach future generations about the horrors of genocide and the oppression and terrible suffering endured by the Armenian people. We hope the day will soon come when it is not just the survivors who honor the dead but also when those whose ancestors perpetrated the horrors acknowledge their terrible responsibility and commemorate as well the memory of genocide’s victims.

Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL): Mr. Speaker, genocide is the most potent of all crimes against humanity because it is an effort to systematically wipe out a people and a culture as well as individual lives. Denying that genocide took place when there are recorded accounts of barbarity and ethnic violence is an injustice. Instead, we must ensure the lessons of the Armenian genocide are properly understood and acknowledged by paying tribute to the Armenian community on this solemn occasion.

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.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI): This tragedy, this crime against humanity, must be remembered by all people of good conscience, lest only evil men remember and be tempted to repeat this horrific lesson of history. For in fact, while most of the civilized world resisted acknowledging this mass murder, one barbarian at the gate did not; and that is why on the eve of his own paroxysm of mass murder, Adolph Hitler blithely remarked: “Who today remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI): To this day, there are those who dismiss the systematic persecution of the Armenian population. Some claim that a smaller number of Armenians were killed as a result of partisan fighting during World War I. Others lessen the importance of this event by refusing to recognize it as genocide . Still others seek to forget this tragedy altogether. But these tragic events must be acknowledged and remembered to ensure that this does not happen.

Rep. 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. Michael Capuano (D-MA): The European Parliament and the United Nations have recognized and reaffirmed the Armenian Genocide as historical fact, as have the Russian and Greek parliaments, the Canadian House of Commons, the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies and the French National Assembly. It is time for America to join the chorus and acknowledge the Armenians who suffered at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.


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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