COMMEMORATION OF THE 89TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
HON. SANDER M. LEVIN
in the house of representatives
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 89th
anniversary of one of history’s most terrible tragedies, the Armenian
On April 24, 1915, 300 Armenian leaders, intellectuals and
professionals were rounded up in Constantinople, deported and killed,
under orders from the Young Turk government. This was the beginning of
a campaign of terror resulting in the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians
and the deportation of more than 500,000.
The government of the Ottoman Empire justified this policy by
claiming it was necessary to suppress revolts being launched by
Armenians as a consequence of the ongoing military operations of World
War I. This assertion was patently denied by survivors and witnesses.
United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morganthau
reported at that time, “Deportation of and excesses against peaceful
Armenians is increasing and from harrowing reports of eyewitnesses it
appears that a campaign of race extermination is in progress under a
pretext of reprisal against rebellion.”
Not content with perpetrating this atrocity, the Young Turks denied a
genocide had taken place. Generations have since been raised denying
this tragedy. Such denials are refuted by the archival documents and
first-hand accounts found in such recent scholarly works as Peter
Balakian’s The Burning Tigris and Samantha Power’s A Problem From Hell.
Director Atom Egoyan presented the horror of the siege of Van in his
film Ararat, which was based, in part, on the memoirs of Clarence
Ussher, an American physician and missionary working in Turkey at the
In Detroit and its surrounding suburbs live one of the largest
Armenian-American communities in the United States, many of whom are
the children and grandchildren of survivors or actual survivors
themselves. This weekend, I will be attending a commemoration ceremony
at St. John’s Armenian Church in Southfield, Michigan, in which some of
these individuals will be in attendance. To those who suggest that this
ruthless genocide of a people and culture did not happen, I ask, what
further testimony could the world possibly want?
Mr. Speaker, for myself and my constituents, I rise today to urge
those who deny this genocide to accept it as fact. Only then can we
move forward and stop these atrocities from repeating themselves over
and over again.