U.S. Legislators Respond to Turkish Genocide Denial and Azeri Aggression

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress convened to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide earlier this week, Armenian Caucus Members Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), along with Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), sent a letter to the Wall Street Journal condemning a Turkish-paid Armenian Genocide denial advertisement included in its April 20th print edition.

The letter said in part: “We call on you to apologize for your decision to publish this advertisement and ask that you pledge to not publish future advertisements that aim to justify, diminish, or erase the tragedies of the past. While in a statement your newspaper defended the decision, claiming you accept a ‘wide range of advertisements, including those with provocative viewpoints,’ fabricating the events of the past is not a viewpoint – it is a lie. It has been 101 years since the Genocide – we must look to remember and heal from the tragedies of the past, not justify them.”

In addition to the advertisement in the Wall Street Journal and other publications, genocide denial groups also took to the skies using GEICO Skytypers to spread their hate-speech. Last week, Assembly Florida Chair Arsine Kaloustian designed a campaign to combat this denial, and on April 25 GEICO Skytypers issued a formal apology promising to “not get involved in promotional advertising for politically motivated campaigns.”

Also this week, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) strongly condemned the April 2-5 Turkish-supported Azerbaijani military attack against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Armenia. His article, entitled “US should hold Azerbaijan accountable,” appeared in The Hill newspaper. Senator Kirk’s column follows statements by Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Robert Dold (R-IL) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA) condemning Azerbaijan.

“The time has come for Azerbaijan to face consequences from the United States and the international community for its blatant military aggression against the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR),” Senator Kirk wrote. “With no system to referee the cease-fire, Azerbaijan has become increasingly belligerent while facing no consequences for its violations. This must change.”

“Confronting genocide denial and Azerbaijani aggression is of paramount importance,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “Printing ads promoting a foreign government’s denial of an indisputable crime against humanity is out of step with American values and is simply wrong. We urge more Members of Congress to speak out against genocide denial and to also hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions,” Ardouny 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 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

Armenian‬ Assembly of America, Members of Congress Commemorate 101st Anniversary of Armenian Genocide‬ on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) joined the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, in coordination with the Embassy of Armenia, the Nagorno Karabakh Representation office in D.C., and the Armenian National Committee of America, for the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on Capitol Hill. Each Member present honored the victims of the genocide and emphasized the importance of remembering and learning from the lessons of the past so that they are not repeated in the future.

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“Tonight, as we remember the victims of the first genocide of the twentieth century, let us renew our commitment to working for the safety and freedom of their descendants,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA). “Only by so doing do we truly honor the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide.”

Elise Kenderian Aronson, former Chief of Staff to a senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee who emceed the event, started by introducing Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). In addition to the Armenian Genocide, Rep. Pallone also discussed Azerbaijan’s attack against Artsakh earlier in the month. “The Armenian Caucus is concerned that this can happen again and become a long-term war,” he stated.

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Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL) discussed his personal time spent researching the issues, looking at photos, and meeting with members of survivor families. Rep. Dold quoted Pope Francis, who described the genocide as an open wound. “We all hoped the 100th anniversary would be the year we got recognition. I thank you for your time to come here year in and year out and educate Congress,” Rep. Dold said. “If we don’t recognize this, we could be allowing this to happen again on a larger scale.”

Along with Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), House Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Dave Brat (R-VA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Dave Trott (R-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA) participated in the event.

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The Republic of Armenia’s Ambassador to the United States Grigor Hovhannissian delivered powerful remarks at the commemoration, explaining that he felt very proud and fulfilled seeing the results of Armenian advocacy throughout the country. Nagorno Karabakh Republic Permanent Representative to the United States Robert Avetisyan also addressed the crowd, and spoke about the horrors of genocide, referring to it as a globalproblem. Both Hovhannissian and Avetisyan echoed the concerns of Members with respect to Azerbaijan’s escalation of hostilities.

Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America Rev. Fr. Tatev Terteryan gave the invocation and the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America Prelate Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan provided the benediction.

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 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

Photo Caption 1: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) at the 101st Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on Capitol Hill.

Photo Caption 2: Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Elise Kenderian Aronson, Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, and Armenian Assembly Board of Trustees Member Annie Totah.

Photo Caption 3: Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Grigor Hovhannissian speaking with Assembly Executive Director Ardouny.

For more photos, visit the Armenian Assembly of America’s Facebook page.