U.S. House Unanimously Approves Resolution to Provide Emergency Relief to Genocide Survivors in Iraq and Syria

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.Res.b 390, the bipartisan Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). H.R. 390, spearheaded by Helsinki Commission Co-Chair Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), provides emergency relief to survivors of genocide in Iraq and Syria and provides accountability for the perpetrators of these crimes.

“The Armenian Assembly strongly supports passage of this critical legislation bringing relief to those who continue to suffer as a result of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The world has watched in horror as Armenians, Yezidis, Kurds, and other innocent minority communities have been subjected to violence and unspeakable crimes, and unfortunately without full accountability of the perpetrators,” Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny said. “Armenians, having been targeted for annihilation in the twentieth century, are deeply troubled that 100 years later descendants of genocide survivors in Iraq and Syria are facing similar genocidal atrocities. With passage in the House, the Assembly urges the Senate to follow suit.”

Last year, the House unanimously passed Assembly supported legislation H.Con.Res. 75, which condemned the atrocities committed by ISIS as genocide against Christian, Yezidi, and other religious and ethnic minorities – including Armenians – in Iraq and Syria.

“President Trump and Vice President Pence have strongly, publicly committed the Administration to providing relief to Christians, [Yezidis] and other genocide survivors, and ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice. H.R. 390 will help ensure that officials implement these commitments and is a blueprint for implementation,” Rep. Smith said.

The bill states that it is U.S. policy “to ensure that assistance for humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs of individuals who are or were nationals and residents of Iraq or Syria, and of communities from those countries, is directed toward those individuals and communities with the greatest need, including those individuals from communities of religious and ethnic minorities, and communities of religious and ethnic minorities, that have been identified as being at risk of persecution, forced migration, acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.”

H.R. 390 authorizes the Secretary of State and Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide assistance to entities, including NGOs, for activities to address ISIS-committed genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Iraq. These activities include conducting criminal investigations, and collecting and preserving evidence for use in criminal trials of suspected perpetrators.

In addition, the bill directs the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence, and Director of the FBI, to encourage foreign governments to include in their security databases and security screenings identifying information about suspected perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Iraq and Syria, and to prosecute such individuals for these crimes.

“Tens of thousands of Christian genocide survivors in Iraq and Syria need our help now and it is essential that emergency humanitarian aid for the survivors be provided,” said Rep. Eshoo. “I thank Chairman Smith for his passionate leadership on this issue and I look forward to working with him and all my colleagues in Congress to quickly move this aid package and bring relief to those who continue to suffer.”

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.

Kaloosdian’s Book on Tadem Continues to Receive Praise

Reviewed by USHMM Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Journal of Levantine Studies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian National Institute is pleased to announce that Robert Aram Kaloosdian’s book, Tadem: My Father’s Village Extinguished during the 1915 Armenian Genocide, was reviewed in the April 2017 issue of Holocaust and Genocide Studies,
the premier journal of the discipline published by Oxford University
Press on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In his
review, Robert Melson, past president of the International Association
of Genocide Scholars, describes the book as a “significant contribution
to historical understanding” of the Armenian Genocide.

Dr.
Melson, also professor emeritus of political science at Purdue
University, writes: “A graduate of Boston University’s School of Law,
Kaloosdian is the founding chairman of the Armenian National Institute,
and one of the founders of the Armenian Assembly of America.  He relies
on a written chronicle of the village and on oral testimonies by elderly
survivors, among them members of his own family, including his father
Boghos.”

Melson
continues: “One of the historical questions that Kaloosdian helps to
clarify…is the role of locals in the mass violence…Kaloosdian’s
research demonstrates that a potential for violence against Armenians at
the local level existed even before the massacres of 1895-1896.”

In her review which appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of the Journal of Levantine Studies,
Dr. Nazan Maksudyan of Istanbul Kemerburgaz University wrote:
“Kaloosdian has made a lasting contribution in reconstructing the
experience of Tademtsis (people from Tadem) during and after the
genocide.”  Maksudyan added: “Robert Aram Kaloosdian’s Tadem, My Father’s Village: Extinguished during the 1915 Armenian Genocide is
an exceptionally rich local history of a rather small village, based
mostly on oral histories, but also on memoirs and other published
accounts. The book provides an almost complete picture of life before
the genocide, with detailed population figures, census-like data on each
family, socioeconomic background, and so on. Moreover, the book
meticulously records the different phases of the genocidal process by
presenting Tadem as a microcosm of the genocide.”

The Journal of Levantine Studies is
published by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, a center dedicated to
the interdisciplinary study and discussion of issues related to
philosophy, society, culture, and education.

While some
would rather we deny, forget, or ignore the reality of the Armenian
Genocide, the book serves as a countervailing force for truth and for
remembrance. It further clarifies with heartbreaking sincerity, what it
is that genocide entails. Because the book documents the tragedy at such
impressively granular tracking, not just a village or community but
also families and individuals, the reader is witness to the complex
pattern in which genocide unfolds – often decentralized, and with a
collection of differently motivated types of perpetrators. The message
is particularly poignant in light of the current turmoil in the same
region where slavery, forced marriages and conversions, and other forms
of exploitation are seen playing out against a background of
international inaction and apathy.

Kaloosdian stated the “voice that came forth in Tadem is
from those villagers of Tadem who no longer have a voice. They were
peaceful and agrarian, rich in culture but limited in resources,
certainly posing no threat to anyone. The ruin of Tadem never needed to
occur. They were not near a war zone. Tadem stands as a testament that religious hatred and racial prejudice are far more destructive than the weapons of war.”

Kaloosdian’s book had already received two awards in 2016. Tadem: My Father’s Village was
awarded an Independent Book Publishers Association’s (IBPA) Benjamin
Franklin Award as a Silver Winner in the Best New Voice Nonfiction
category. The IBPA describes the book as follows: “Drawing on accounts
from over a dozen witnesses, most never before published, the author
recounts the life and death of one village. With striking immediacy, the
author presents TADEM as a microcosm of
the Genocide and argues that the Turks used the outbreak of World War I
as a cover for atrocities motivated by religious hatred and greed.”

Tadem: My Father’’s Village also
received an “IPPY” Silver award in the category of World History. The
“IPPY” Awards, launched in 1996 and given out by the Independent
Publisher Book Awards, are designed to bring increased recognition to
the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors
and publishers.

Founded in
1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501©(3) educational
charity based in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to the study,
research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.