04/09/14 - Remarks offered on the Senate floor - Mr. President, this month we solemnly recognize the 99th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Ninety-nine years ago the Young Turk leaders of the Ottoman Empire summoned and executed over 200 Armenian leaders and intellectuals, beginning an 8-year campaign of oppression and massacre. By 1923, nearly 1.5 million Armenians were killed and over a half a million survivors were exiled. These atrocities affected the lives of every Armenian living in Asia Minor and, indeed, throughout the world.
Henry Morgenthau, Sr., who was the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during President Wilson's administration and who had urged intervention, later remembered the events of the genocide, saying:
I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.
The survivors of the Armenian genocide, however, persevered due to their unbreakable spirit and steadfast resolve. They went on to enrich their countries of emigration, including the United States, with their centuries-old customs and culture. That is why today we not only commemorate this grave tragedy, but we celebrate the traditions, the contributions, and the bright future of Armenia.
In particular, I wish to note the incredibly strong Armenian -American community in my home State of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Armenian -American community, as it does each year, holds events in commemoration of this grave tragedy. One will take place this year at the Martyrs' Monument at the North Burial Ground in Providence. This monument was built 38 years ago in memory of those who were lost in the genocide.
This year I once again join with my Senate colleagues on a resolution that encourages the United States to officially recognize the Armenian genocide. Denial of this history is not consistent with our country's sensitivity to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. We must continue to educate our young people against this type of hatred and oppression so that we can seek to prevent such crimes against humanity in the future.
I also remain committed to supporting efforts as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide foreign assistance to Armenia to promote economic growth and business competitiveness, strengthen military and security assistance, and support democratic reforms and sustainable development.
I also wish to express my concern regarding the recent fighting and violence that is endangering the Armenian community in Kessab, Syria, and has forced many to flee. This community and so many others continue to struggle in the midst of this conflict.
We must find a way to recognize what happened 99 years ago and show our steadfast support to those who are currently being impacted by persecution. I hope we can come together and do that.
With that, I yield the floor, and I note the absence of a quorum.