STATEMENTS BY U.S. POLITICAL LEADERS COMMEMORATING THE 99TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

Updated June 5, 2014

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April 3, 2014 – Senator Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) statement while introducing a senate resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide: 

“The Armenian Genocide is a horrifying factual reality that can never be denied,” Chairman Menendez said. “This resolution reaffirms in the strongest terms that we will always remember this tragedy and honor the memory of innocent Armenian men, women and children who were killed and expelled from their homeland. The Armenian Genocide must be taught, recognized, and commemorated to prevent the re-occurrence of similar atrocities from ever happening again.“

April 9, 2014 – Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) spoke on the Senate floor to mark the 99th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and hail the many contributions of the Armenian community in Rhode Island and across the country: 

“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.”

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April 23, 2014 – Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA):

“Genocide denial is the last step in a genocide, the first step of the next genocide.

“On the 99th anniversary of  the Armenian Genocide we solemnly remember the victims and  reaffirm our mission to seek full recognition by the United States.”

April 24, 2014 – Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL):

“In marking this solemn anniversary, we honor the survivors and remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Only a few brave survivors remain, including 107-year-old Helen Paloian of Chicago, whose parents and two brothers were among the 1.5 million Armenians killed by Ottoman Turkey, Senator Kirk said. It has been 99 years since one of history’s worst atrocities began, and it is time for the United States to strengthen our leadership on human rights and join 11 of our NATO allies and the European Union in formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”

April 24, 2014 – Senator Edward Markey (D-MA):

“Mr. President, the Armenian Genocide is sometimes called the “forgotten genocide.” But every April, we come together to remember and commemorate the Armenian Genocide and to declare that we will never forget.

“In order to prevent future genocides, we must clearly acknowledge and remember those of the past.  For many years the Congress has had before it a resolution which clearly affirms the factual reality that the Armenian Genocide did occur. I was a strong and vocal supporter of the genocide resolution for my entire tenure in the House and I am proud to have joined Senator Menendez and Senator Kirk in introducing the Armenian Genocide resolution in the Senate.

“This is the ninety-ninth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, yet the suffering will continue for Armenians and non-Armenians alike as long as the world allows denial to exist and prevail. It is long overdue for the United States to join the many other nations that have formally recognized the Armenian Genocide.

“That is why today’s passage by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the genocide resolution in advance of the ninety-ninth anniversary is so historic. I was proud to vote for this important resolution today in Committee, and I will keep fighting to ensure its passage by the full Senate. I will continue to work with the Armenian-American community to build a prosperous and bright future for the Armenian people. 

“We must continue to stand with our ally Armenia to address the challenges they face. Armenia is confronted with blockades by Turkey and Azerbaijan – one of the longest lasting blockades in modern history. The United States must provide increased assistance to Armenia, work to promote trade with Armenia, and work to reestablish the Turkish government’s commitment to normalized relations.  And the United States should work to facilitate a closer relationship between Armenia and Europe. 

“The Armenian people are true survivors. Despite repeated invasions, loss of land and the loss of between one-half and three-quarters of their population in the genocide, the people of Armenia have prevailed.         

“We have a shared responsibility to ensure that the Armenian people are able to build their own independent and prosperous future.  Together we can continue to build an Armenia that is respected and honored by its allies and neighbors.  But for this to happen, there needs to be universal acknowledgement of the horror that was the Armenian Genocide.”

April 25, 1915 – Senator Carl Levin (D-MI):

“Today, April 24, people around the world will pause to observe Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. We will pause to reflect on the historical facts of the Armenian genocide – the deaths of more than 1.5 million men, women and children as part of a campaign of deportation, starvation and violence against an ethnic minority by the rulers of a collapsing Ottoman Empire in 1915. 

“I add my voice to those who have called upon the Republic of Turkey to recognize the truth of this dark moment in history and to engage in a forthright discussion about the nature of that history and its continuing effects. 

“The world has seen many examples of how acknowledgement of the past, however painful, is important to the present and future. Germany’s acknowledgment of the Holocaust was essential to Europe’s post-war recovery and unity. The reconciliation process in post-apartheid South Africa was essential to creating a stable, more inclusive nation. And just recently, in Rwanda, we have seen the fruits of attempts to reconcile twenty years after nearly 1 million people died in ethnic-driven violence. None of these reconciliation efforts has been easy; each has stumbled at times. But each has demonstrated the value, indeed the necessity, of acknowledging and remembering painful history.

“Moreover, those who perished should be remembered. Silence in the face of injustice and hatred – whether it is happening today or happened a century ago – is a signal to those who would exercise injustice or hatred in the future. By remembering the Armenian Genocide, we speak out for its victims and for all victims of ethnic hatred and violence.”

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April 24, 2014 – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ), co-chair and founder of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues:

“Today, we commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and remember the lives of the one and a half million Armenians who were slaughtered by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago.  As we remember the victims, we pay homage to the Armenian people who, for thousands of years, have shown their perseverance and strength in the face of great challenges.

“While, the Armenian Genocide has been recognized by scholars all over the world and has been widely documented as a historical fact, we are reminded today that Turkey refuses to come to terms with its own history and recognize the atrocities as genocide.  However, I will not stand idly by as the truth of the murder of one and half million Armenians is distorted.

“It is time for the United States government to do the right thing, the moral thing, and recognize the atrocities committed against the Armenian people for exactly what it was—genocide.  This is long overdue, and I am as committed today, as I was when I founded the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues more than 18 years ago, to push for that formal recognition.

“I am proud that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee acted so decisively earlier this month to pass a resolution calling upon the Senate to officially recognize this crime against humanity.  It is time now for the House to act on H. Res. 227, calling on the President to acknowledge the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide and ensure that the foreign policy of the U.S. reflects an accurate account of history.

“Armenia stands as a resilient ally of the United States and a nation dedicated to democracy and regional stability.  On this somber day, we stand in support of Armenia and commemorate the bravery of those who perished in and survived the genocide.”

April 24, 2014 – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD):

"Today we commemorate the Armenian Genocide – the deportation, forced march and massacre of 1.5 million innocent Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago.
"In what has become a bitter annual ritual for Armenian-Americans and those who stand with them, we once again call upon the Obama Administration and the United States Congress to formally and officially recognize the Armenian Genocide as a tragic and unambiguous fact of history.  Such recognition is critical to fortifying America’s moral standing in the international community and, as we prepare in the coming year to mark the 100th anniversary of this tragedy, is long and painfully overdue.”

April 24, 2014 – House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

“Today, we commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, remembering the victims and honoring the survivors of one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century.  Too often, the truth of these horrific events has been denied, yet the historical record is clear: from 1915 to 1923, the leaders of the Ottoman Empire conceived and carried out a genocide against the Armenian people.

“On this occasion, we remember the nightmare that forever silenced the voices of more than 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children – a staggering crime that that was unequivocally described by international observers as a ‘campaign of race extermination.’  We must never forget this dark hour of history. 

“If we ignore history, then we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past.  The recent attacks on the Armenian-populated town of Kessab in Syria are a stark and brutal reminder of the dangers in our own time.  We must be candid about the facts.  That is why it is critical, year in and year out, to reaffirm our dedication to recognizing the Armenian genocide and to placing the U.S. Congress firmly on the side of honesty in our history.  On this somber anniversary, it is our responsibility to embrace the truth and build a brighter future for all Armenians.”

April 24, 2014 – House Democratic Whip Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD):

“Today we honor the lives of the 1.5 million victims lost in the Armenian genocide, one of the worst atrocities of our time.  On this date 99 years ago, this horrific tragedy began with the arrest and persecution of leading figures in Armenian society, political leaders, clergy and journalists.  I join with Armenian communities here in the United States and around the world in mourning the loss of innocent women, men and children. We must never forget them, and recommit ourselves to never standing idly by as a tragedy such as this takes place.”

April 24, 2014 – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA):

“Ninety-nine years ago, the Ottoman Empire launched an all-out assault on its Armenian population.  In a brutal campaign of massacres, forced marches, looting, and rape the Ottoman Turks sought to destroy an entire people. They did so in full view of American diplomats and journalists, who reported the details of the fate of the Armenians to a shocked public back home. 

“The monstrousness of the crime was so terrible that an entirely new word had to be invented to describe it – genocide. 

“The horrors of the Armenian genocide have been compounded by decades of denial by the government of Turkey, which even today stands by its absurd claim that historians are divided over what happened to the Armenians and that the issue must be studied further.  No study is needed – the facts are plain and evidence is abundant, including that in our own national archives and back issues of the world’s newspapers.  What is needed is an unequivocal acknowledgment of the truth by Turkey and a commitment to educate its own people on the facts of the genocide after nearly a century of denial and obfuscation.”

April 24, 2014 – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA):

“I am honored to be here in Armenia to express support and solidarity with the Armenian people on this day of solemn remembrance 99 years after the Armenian Genocide.

"History is a continuum.  It’s much harder to get tomorrow right if we get yesterday wrong.  It is vital for the world to accurately acknowledge the wrongs of yesterday, so that atrocities like this genocide of 1.5 million Armenians are never again witnessed.

"I have long and wholeheartedly agreed with President Ronald Reagan, who called this first genocide of the last century exactly what it was – a genocide.”

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April 24, 1915 – Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY):

"I am visiting Armenia as part of a bipartisan delegation to commemorate the anniversary of the Armenian genocide. The whole world knows about this terrible tragedy, in which 1.5 million innocent Armenians were slaughtered.  I want to express my great sorrow and deepest condolences to all Armenians on this solemn occasion.  I also once again call on Turkey to acknowledge the genocide.”

REMEMBERING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

(Senate – May 06, 2014)

“Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, last week, Armenians and friends of Armenians around the world solemnly remembered the horrific dislocation and slaughter that began in 1915 and resulted in more than 1.5 million deaths and another half million Armenians driven from their ancient homeland. The Armenian Genocide was carried out by the Ottoman Empire in its waning years amidst the chaos of World War I. For what was an undeniably gruesome period in human history, Theodore Roosevelt called the Armenian Genocide “the greatest crime of the war.’

“It is this terrible chapter, more than any other single event, that led to the Armenian diaspora, including in the United States and my home State of Rhode Island. For generations, the Armenian community has been a strong and hardworking part of our Rhode Island family, producing great leaders in both government and business. Whether at flag raising ceremonies, church festivals, the wonderful St. Vartanantz Annual Bazaar at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, or at commemorations of the Armenian Genocide at the monument in the North Burial Ground in Providence, Armenians are part of the fabric of Rhode Island.

“Since achieving independence after the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia has at last established a foothold for democracy in the Caucasus after centuries of outside domination and totalitarian rule. I have long supported foreign assistance to Armenia to help grow its economy and strengthen its Democratic institutions, and I will continue to do so.

“But perhaps the most meaningful thing we can do for Armenia and for Armenians in Rhode Island is to help cast a light on that brutal genocide 99 years ago. To this day, too many people are unaware of this tragedy, due in part to the unwillingness of some to call it what it was. But make no mistake; the slaughter of innocent Armenians was genocide, plain and simple. Indeed, our modern term “genocide” was first coined to describe both the Jewish Holocaust and the plight of the Armenians under Ottoman persecution.

“Along with my Rhode Island colleague Senator JACK REED, I have proudly cosponsored resolutions in the Senate condemning the genocide and calling on the President of the United States to ensure that U.S. foreign policy appropriately and without equivocation reflects the realities of the Armenian Genocide. This solemn recognition is important not only to so many Armenians in Rhode Island and throughout the world, but to our human obligation to the truth.”

About Armenian Assembly of America

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
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