Armenian Assembly Hails Senate Action Affirming the Armenian Genocide

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Applauds Senators Menendez and Cruz Who Followed in the Tradition of Senate Giants Dole and Proxmire

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenia Assembly of America (Assembly) hailed adoption of S.Res. 150, the Armenian Genocide resolution in the U.S. Senate spearheaded by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“The Armenian Assembly of America commends Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Ted Cruz who continued to press forward undaunted and undeterred in securing unanimous consent to adopt S.Res. 150 that squarely affirms the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide, promotes genocide education and combats denial,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

“Through their tenacity, they have taken a page from their esteemed former colleagues Senators Bob Dole and William Proxmire,” Ardouny added. “With this action, the Senate joins the House and its overwhelming vote upholding the proud American record of recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide. The Congress of the United States of America has spoken.”

“Adoption of this bill is especially fitting today given that this week marks the anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as well as Human Rights Day. To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, universal human rights starts close to home and unless they have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Today’s Senate action unequivocally gives meaning to U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and sends a strong message to the world that the U.S. stands on the side of human rights,” Ardouny continued.

After its unanimous approval by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, President Harry Truman submitted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to the Senate, calling for swift adoption. “We have established before the world our first and clear policy toward [the] crime” of genocide, Truman wrote.

The Genocide Treaty, however, stalled in the Senate for the next 20 years until Senator William Proxmire (D-WI) took it upon himself to fight for its passage. On January 11, 1967, Senator Proxmire announced “I serve notice today that…I intend to speak day after day” in the chamber until the Senate calls up the Genocide Treaty. After 19 years and more than 3,000 speeches later, Senator Proxmire’s persistence paid off. On February 19, 1986, the Senate near unanimously approved the Treaty, thanks to his devoted support.

The Armenian Assembly also recalls the efforts of former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) who was a tireless advocate for U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide. In 1989, Armenian Assembly Co-Chair Van Krikorian and Armenian National Institute (ANI) Director Dr. Rouben Adalian joined Senator Dole in a long and tough battle in the Senate to pass S.J.Res.212, the Armenian Genocide resolution at the time. Krikorian and Dr. Adalian worked directly with Senator Dole in compiling U.S. archival and other materials to fend off the genocide denial machine that was in full effect.

Senator Dole did not relent, and presented to the Senate scores of historical documents attesting to the Armenian Genocide. There were two rounds of debate, the first lasting three days, from February 20 to February 22, and the second on February 27, but Senator Dole did not concede. With a filibuster blocking the vote, Senator Dole twice voted for a motion of cloture, which requires the approval of three-fifths of the Senate to override the filibuster. The resolution did not pass the Senate, and Senator Dole stated: “I still think ‘David’ won the debate – but it is pretty clear that ‘Goliath’ won the vote.”

“In addition to the Senators, we would like to thank the staff and everyone who has worked on this issue during this Congress and over the decades, including those not with us smiling from heaven in helping make today a reality,” Ardouny said.

Now that the record is set straight, the Armenian Assembly of America will redouble its commitment to genocide prevention and ethnic cleansing, not only for Armenians in threatened communities, but for all nationalities and religious groups subjected to gross abuses of human rights.

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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NR# 2019-079

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Turkey Sanctions

Condemns Turkey’s Military Invasion of Syria

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch (R-ID) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) applauds the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and its approval with a vote of 18-4 of U.S. sanctions against Turkey for its military invasion of northeast Syria. The next step is approval by the full Senate.

The legislation on Turkish sanctions, S.2641, was introduced by SFRC Chairman James Risch (R-ID) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Doug Jones (D-AL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and John Barrasso (R-WY).

“Turkey’s support of ISIS and its attacks on ethnic and religious minorities are unforgivable. The killing last month in which ISIS militants took great pride of an Armenian priest traveling to Deir el-Zor in northern Syria to visit the Armenian Catholic Church is beyond reprehensible. As we have previously expressed, Turkey needs to stop supporting terrorism and should be immediately removed from NATO,” stated Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian.

“We commend Chairman Risch and Ranking Member Menendez for this much-needed measure,” they added, as just today a New York Times headline stated: “Turkey and Russia Judged Bigger Risk Than ISIS for U.S. Troops in Syria.”

“Turkey’s actions over the past year are truly beyond the pale,” Ranking Member Menendez said on Twitter. “This bill makes clear to Turkey that its behavior with respect to Syria is unacceptable, and its purchase of the S400 system is untenable.”

Armenian Assembly of America Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez in the Capitol moments after the vote on the Turkish Sanctions bill

The legislation states that “Turkey’s military invasion of Northeast Syria is an unacceptable and unnecessary escalation of tensions with the potential to cause a severe humanitarian crisis” as well as “undo the collective gains made in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).” It also calls for sanctions against Turkish government officials and Turkish Armed Forces who are responsible or complicit in “a violation of the law of armed conflict” or “a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.”

As a member of NATO, “Turkey is treaty bound to safeguard the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law,” according to the legislation, and “should be united with other NATO allies in efforts for collective defense and the preservation of peace and security.”

Instead, Turkey’s actions continue to undermine the alliance and destabilize the region as outlined in a recent bipartisan letter led by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), wherein the lawmakers wrote: “President Erdogan’s decision to invade northern Syria on October 9 has had disastrous consequences for U.S. national security, has led to deep divisions in the NATO alliance, and caused a humanitarian crisis on the ground.”

Last week during the NATO summit, Turkish forces killed 8 children in Tal Rifaat in northern Syria, with reports of more casualties while Turkish President Erdogan ignored the concerns from the NATO alliance, and threatened to veto NATO’s defense plan for the Baltics. Erdogan demanded that NATO member states endorse his own false claim that Syrian Kurdish fighters on Turkey’s borders are terrorists, a definition that the U.S. Pentagon rejected.

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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NR# 2019-078

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