WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) joined the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, along with the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, the Artsakh Representation office in D.C., and the Armenian National Committee of America, for the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on Capitol Hill.
“The Armenian Assembly appreciates the heartfelt remarks by the Members, and their commitment to reaffirming the Armenian Genocide and the proud chapter in America’s history in helping to save the survivors of the first genocide of the twentieth century,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.
Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Rep. David Trott (R-MI), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), along with Vice Co-Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) attended the commemoration and gave remarks about the work of the Armenian Caucus, and the importance of reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, as well as the need to ensure humanitarian aid for Armenia and Artsakh. This past week, the Assembly and a bipartisan group of Members of Congress outlined key priorities with respect to the Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Bill.
Along with Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) participated in the event.
Each Member present honored the victims of the genocide and emphasized the importance of learning from the lessons of the past so that they are not repeated in the future. Reps. Schiff and Trott spoke about new legislation H.R. 220, which states: “the lessons of past genocides should be applied to help prevent future war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” This includes “the proper commemoration and consistent condemnation of the Armenian Genocide” in order to prevent modern day genocides. As Rep. Sherman pointed out in his speech, “Denial is the last stage of genocide.”
The Members of Congress also praised the film coming out this month called The Promise, and the importance of watching this movie. They discussed the bipartisan letter circulating among their colleagues to urge President Donald Trump to affirm the Armenian Genocide, as former President Ronald Reagan had done. Rep. Costa added: “Now is the time to come together and acknowledge the genocide.”
Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Director Hayk Demoyan from Yerevan discussed the importance of preserving the history of the Armenian Genocide in order to prevent repetition. He also spoke about the 25 years of U.S.-Armenia relations, and noted that the first Armenian came to the United States 400 years ago, and was known as “Martin the Armenian.”
The Republic of Armenia’s Ambassador to the United States Grigor Hovhannissian and Artsakh Permanent Representative to the United States Robert Avetisyan both addressed the crowd, and spoke about the horrors of genocide, echoing the sentiments expressed by the Members of Congress.
Former Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Senior Counsel and Chief Securities Policy Advisor Dean Shahinian acted as Master of Ceremonies, and welcomed guests to the Capitol Hill Commemoration. Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Vicar Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian gave the invocation and Diocesan Legate of the Armenian Church of America Archbishop Vicken Aykazian provided the benediction. Archbishop Vicken also spoke briefly about his time in Iraq and the devastating destruction of the Christian culture he witnessed.
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©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.