WASHINGTON, DC – Legislation calling on the U.S. President to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives, two weeks before President’s Obama’s April 5th trip to Turkey and roughly a month before the White House’s annual April 24th commemoration of this crime against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The measure, H.Res.252, is spearheaded by lead sponsors, Adam Schiff (D-CA) and George Radanovich (R-CA) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), and cosponsored by over 70 House colleagues. The resolution is identical to the one introduced in both the House and Senate in the 110th Congress, which was adopted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, over intense pressure from the Turkish Government and Bush Administration, and publicly endorsed by then-candidate for President Barack Obama, his Vice President Joe Biden, and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Armenians in the U.S. and around the world thank Adam Schiff, George Radanovich, Frank Pallone and Mark Kirk for leading Congressional efforts toward U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “The election of Barack Obama, who has spoken repeatedly, forcefully, and with great clarity about the need for American recognition of the Armenian Genocide, marked a truly welcome break from the flawed policies of the past on this score. We look, in the coming days and weeks, for the President to honor his pledge, to fully support this legislation, and to raise the discourse in Washington, DC on the Armenian Genocide from level of Turkey’s threats and denials up to the level of the core moral and humanitarian values of the America people.”
In the days leading up to the introduction of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, Representatives Schiff, Radanovich, Pallone and Kirk sent a letter to President Obama urging him to end the complicity of past Administrations in Turkey’s genocide denial by properly characterizing the Armenian Genocide. That sentiment was reiterated by the International Association of Genocide Scholars, in a March 7th letter sent to President Obama.
The resolution comes six-weeks prior to April 24th, the worldwide commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. U.S. Presidents have marked the annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923 by the Ottoman Turkish government every year since 1994, though have refrained from the proper characterization of this crime under threats and pressure from the Turkish government.
“There is going to be heavy focus on encouraging President Obama to make a strong statement of recognition on April 24, because it will be important in setting the tone of the discussions on the Armenian Genocide Resolution in Congress,” Rep. Schiff told Armenian Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian earlier today. “The Turkish lobby will be spending millions — like they did in past years. They will also argue that the recognition of the genocide will cut off reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey, and that this is not the right time. The truth is, after 94 years, if this is not the right time, I don’t know when that right time can be.”
Rep. Radanovich concurred, noting, “President Obama made a clear promise to the Armenian community during his campaign and to do anything short of properly recognizing the Armenian genocide as such would be a direct slap in the face to Armenians around the world.” In a statement issued earlier today, he went on to note that “The Armenian constituents in my district have been staunch advocates of the truth and to them I promise not to give up this fight.”
As Members of Congress prepared to introduce the Armenian Genocide Resolution, thousands of Armenian American activists contacted their legislators through phone, mail and the ANCA WebFax system urging them to become early cosponsors of the legislation.
The Armenian Genocide legislation is expected to the referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.