WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan congressional resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide was introduced today, with over 70 Members of Congress joining as co-sponsors. This resolution encourages education and greater public awareness of the Armenian Genocide, including America’s unprecedented overseas humanitarian relief at the time, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Vice Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Co-Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) spearheaded the resolution, and were joined by the other leaders of the Caucus, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Peter King (R-NY), and Jackie Speier (D-CA) in underscoring their support for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
“Over 100 years ago, the Ottoman Empire undertook a brutal campaign of murder, rape, and displacement against the Armenian people that took the lives of 1.5 million men, women, and children in the first genocide of the 20th century,” Rep. Schiff stated. “Genocide is not a relic of the past, but an ever present threat. Its denial is not only a continuing injury to the survivors, but makes its repetition against another people more likely. It is therefore all the more pressing that the Congress recognize the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide and make clear that we will never be an accomplice to denial.”
“Genocide must not be denied. It must be acknowledged for what it is – a scourge on humanity. Official recognition of the Armenian Genocide would represent a courageous new chapter in American foreign policy. With the bold leadership of the current Administration, it is time for the United States to take a stand against Turkish genocide denial,” said Rep. Bilirakis.
The Armenian Genocide resolution expresses the sense of the House to: “commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance; reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States Government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide; and encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the United States role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.”
“The facts of the genocide were recorded contemporaneously by American diplomats, including the Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, who transmitted a flood of cables and reports describing the wholesale slaughter of the Armenians,” Rep. Schiff and Rep. Bilirakis wrote in a letter to their colleagues.
“Congress passed first of its kind legislation to establish the Near East Relief effort which provided millions of dollars in food and aid to survivors, including tens of thousands of orphans,” Congressmen Schiff and Bilirakis stated to their colleagues as only one example of U.S. efforts to help the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Last year, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) launched a digital exhibit displaying the role of the YMCA and American relief work during the first republic of Armenia, and just last week ANI released a groundbreaking new exhibit titled: “The United States Military in the First Republic of Armenia 1919-1920.” To learn more about examples of U.S. humanitarian relief in response to the Armenian Genocide, visit www.armenian-genocide.org.
In 1981, President Reagan squarely acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, stating that “Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it – and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples – the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.” This accurately reflects America’s values and history of speaking out against genocide. To date, virtually every state in the U.S. has issued a proclamation or resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, honoring the lives lost as well as survivors.
“The Assembly has prioritized U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide especially as vulnerable minority communities continue to be persecuted and targeted across the Middle East and other parts of the world,” stated Armenian Assembly Board Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian. “The United States’ record of providing humanitarian relief and helping save the survivors of the Armenian Genocide is a testament to America’s values and serves as a basis for the strong and enduring bonds between the Armenian and American people,” the Co-Chairs added.
“We commend the Armenian Caucus leadership and also applaud the dedication and tenacity of the resolution’s co-sponsors, including Congresswomen Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo for their commitment to protect minority communities targeted by hatred. We encourage all Members to co-sponsor the bipartisan resolution as it makes its way to the House floor,” the Co-Chairs added.
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.