WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) echoes the condemnation expressed by leaders of the House and Senate with respect to Turkey’s invasion of Syria and the bloodshed therein. Today, Turkey reluctantly agreed to a temporary, 120 hour cease-fire in northern Syria after pressing ahead with its military offensive attacking Kurds and minorities in the region for over a week.
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) welcomed the cease-fire but indicated that “the other terms cave to the maximalist demands of Erdogan and would allow Turkey to ethnically cleanse a big swath of Kurdish areas and lead to a revival of ISIS.”
“While a temporary ceasefire was brokered, Turkey should not be rewarded for its actions. For too long the United States has turned a blind eye on Turkey’s abysmal human rights record. This latest assault on vulnerable ethnic groups demonstrates the need for Congress to unequivocally affirm the Armenian Genocide and adopt the resolutions pending in the House and Senate. We call on Congress to act now,” stated Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.
Turkey’s actions this past week have been eerily similar to what happened to the Armenian people during the Armenian Genocide, a point that has not gone unnoticed by the media. The Chicago Tribune article titled “Trump snub allows Turks to replay Armenian strategy” makes the clear connection.
“Turkey’s assault on the Kurdish people in Syria — ‘Operation Spring Peace’ — is a replica of what Turks did to the Armenians from 1915 to 1922. The laundered term is ethnic cleansing, but it is genocide, aimed at a one-time U.S. ally in the Mideast,” reported in Chicago Tribune article. “Of course, the Turks have denied for decades their persecution of the Armenians and the estimated 1.5 million deaths during the holocaust. Just as they deny the military incursion into Kurdish-held territory in Syria is to cleanse the region of civilians and combatants, using one of the world’s strongest military forces.”
“The Turks maintain they undertook the assault into Syria to stifle roving bands of terrorists, which they contend are Kurds. They labeled Armenians the same more than a century ago to justify the genocide of a peaceful people,” the article continued.
“I do not have a high level of confidence — in fact, I have no confidence — that Turkey will preserve true religious freedom or protect those religious minorities,” Tony Perkins, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told NPR. “We could see another genocide in that region.”
Eric Edelman, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the George W. Bush Administration, said in a recent interview published in The Jerusalem Post he was fairly certain that genocide was an option, saying the only time a Turkish government tried to move a million-plus people into Syria was in 1915 — “and that didn’t work out too well” — referring to the Armenian Genocide.
Human rights lawyer Eitay Mack added: “There is absolutely no doubt that Turkey’s success in preventing international recognition of the Armenian genocide between 1915 and 1923 has emboldened Erdoğan to commit horrific crimes against the Kurdish people in 2019.”
“For their part, they are resisting a century of Turkish efforts to erase Kurdish identity and language within the country’s borders, as the Turks have done to other ethnic minorities in the past. Let’s not forget, the very ground we’re speaking about in northern Syria, down the Euphrates River Valley, is the same location to which survivors of the Armenian genocide fled, having become the first victims of Turkish nationalism,” according to a report in RollingStone.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s actions are not being lost on Congress, as well. Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelming passed legislation which “calls on Turkish President Erdogan to immediately cease unilateral military action in Northeast Syria and to respect existing agreements relating to Syria.” And in that bill, Congress referenced that “Turkey has historically threatened, forcibly displaced, and killed Syrian Kurds, including during military operations in the Afrin District.”
Last week, Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) stated: “These actions are particularly concerning given Turkey’s historical precedent of eliminating minority groups that it perceives as a threat, as it did during the Armenian Genocide.”
“Now would be a good time for the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) wrote on Twitter.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) said: “100 years ago, 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in what is now Turkey. For decades, the US has refused to officially acknowledge that first modern genocide out of fear of alienating Turkey. Clearly, it’s past time we stop worrying about Turkey’s feelings & pass H.Res. 296.”
“The Hitler of our century, Boston Celtics basketball player Enes Kanter has said, is the president of his native Turkey,” according to an article in The Spectator. “It’s been time for justice for Turkey’s victims, but there is now an opportunity for President Trump, given the tension between the US and Turkey due to our newly imposed sanctions in response to their military campaign in northeast Syria, to formally recognize Turkey’s past and contemporary crimes.”
“The [Armenian] Assembly is urging Congress to affirm the Armenian Genocide now that the circumstances have become not only overdue but especially ripe by adopting H. Res. 296,” The Spectator article continued. “The best time to acknowledge Turkey’s crimes was yesterday. The second best time is today.”
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.