"Special Order" Organized by Armenian Caucus Features Powerful Speeches against Turkey's Denial; Additional Statements Expected Throughout the Week

April 24, 2001

WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives commemorated the 86th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide during “Special Order” remarks on the House floor earlier this evening, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)

Congressional Armenian Caucus co-chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) organized the House commemoration, which is expected to continue throughout the week as Representatives submit additional statements for the Congressional Record. Congressmen David Bonior (D-MI) and George Radanovich (R-CA), co-sponsors of the Armenian Genocide resolution during the previous Congress, began the series of five-minute speeches, stressing the importance of official Congressional affirmation of this crime against humanity.

“We want to thank Congressmen Pallone and Knollenberg for their leadership in organizing this Special Order and for all their efforts to help bring an end to the Turkish Government’s shameful campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We appreciate, as well, all the efforts of Armenian American organizations and individuals throughout the United States who encouraged their elected representatives to join with our community during this time of solemn remembrance.”

Excerpts from these remarks are presented below, in the order they appeared on the House floor:

House Democratic Whip David Bonior (D-MI): “What it means to be an American, the way I see it, means standing up for justice; American means speaking out against injustice, and that’s what I urge all of my colleagues to do and join me in recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”

Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA): “I say we must affirm history, not bury it. We must learn from history, not reshape it according to the geostrategic needs of the moment, and we must refuse to be intimidated, or other states with troubled pasts will ask that the American record on their dark chapter be expunged.”

Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI): “The images of human suffering from the Armenian Genocide are as graphic and as haunting as the pictures of the Holocaust. Why then, it must be asked, are so many people unaware of the Armenian Genocide. I believe the answer is found in the international community’s response to this disturbing event. Or, I should say, lack of response.”

Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY): “As we do not ignore the occurrence of the Nazi Holocaust, we must not ignore the occurrence of the Armenian Genocide. It is vital that we do not let political agendas get in the way of doing what is right. I will continue to call upon the Turkish government to accept complete accountability for the Armenian Genocide.”

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): “President Bush had a golden opportunity to recognize the Genocide today in annual statements made by the President. From statements that candidate Bush made, one would have believed that, as president, he would use the word ‘genocide’ today. But sadly, today, the president chose not to use the word genocide thus minimizing the events from 1915 to 1923 that we commemorate this evening. Now I know that many Armenian Americans will feel betrayed because of President Bush’s inaction today.”

Rep. John Tierney (D-MA): “Today, as we stand in recognition of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, we also stand in recognition of the guilt of complicity of all nations that turned away when faced with this great tragedy. There is no doubt that calling the events by their rightful name – genocide – is an important element of this recognition of responsibility.”

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA): “This crime against humanity has been compounded to this day by those who refuse to recognize it. The victims and their families, many of whom live in the United States, are owed this recognition.”

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA): “…it’s imperative that the United States House of Representatives become a voice in the campaign to recognize and acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): “We must follow the moral leadership of France and Italy whose national assemblies unanimously passed a bill that officially recognizes the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey during and after World War I.”

Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN): “I want to thank all those Members who have come down here tonight to make sure that regardless of what Turkey does and regardless of what this Congress does, the American people still hear a voice on behalf of the Armenians of this country and remember the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923.”

Rep. James McGovern (D-MA): “Sadly, Mr. Speaker, France has achieved the moral leadership that the United States Congress and the White House have failed to fulfill.”

Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD): “If we in the Congress continue to react with silence regarding these events and are unwilling to stand up and publicly condemn these atrocities, we effectively give our approval to abuses of power such as the Armenian Genocide.”

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY): “The Turkish government must officially recognize the atrocities of its predecessors in the Ottoman Empire. I believe that by failing to recognize such barbaric acts one becomes complicit in them.”

Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ): “We must commit ourselves to ensuring that America remains a beacon of tolerance and openness and diversity. Madame Speaker, I commend the commitment of Armenian Americans who continue to strive for world recognition of one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century.”

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who was in Montebello, California today at a community-wide Armenian Genocide commemoration, said the following: “It is high time we honored the memory of the 1.5 million men, women, and children with affirmation as well as prayer, and recognize their loss and ours for what it truly was, genocide. Just as we cannot condone denial, we cannot remain passive in the face of euphemistic, watered-down terminology used by apologists for the deniers.”


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 * Email.anca@anca.org
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