CR: Armenian Genocide – Rep. Honda




of california

in the house of representatives

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Mr. HONDA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask the Members of the House
to join us in recognizing past instances of genocide and reaffirming
our Nation’s commitment to never again allow the perpetration of such
atrocities anywhere on this earth. House Resolution 193 appropriately
reaffirms America’s obligation to international genocide conventions,
and underscores the importance of recognizing past crimes against
humanity, including the Holocaust and the Armenian, Cambodian, and
Rwandan genocides. We all know that silence in the face of genocide
only encourages those who would commit such atrocities in the
future. Israel Charney, the noted genocide and Holocaust scholar, has
written extensively about the psychology of genocide denial. He has
explained to the world what we should all know from history: to deny
genocide is to celebrate the mass murder and to endorse the doctrine
of corrupt power that brought about the destruction in the first
place. To erase agonizing memories of genocide only mocks the
sensibilities of the victims and their descendents–in essence, once
again, victimize the victims. For this reason, America must recognize
the Turkish massacre and displacement of Armenians as an act of
genocide. The House Judiciary Committee, upon its unanimous approval
of the Genocide Resolution, described the Armenian Genocide in the
following terms:

Beginning in 1915, the Islamic Turkish state of the Ottoman
Empire sought to end the collective existence of the Christian
Armenian population. From 1915 through 1918, during World War 1,
the Ottoman Empire subjected the Armenian people to deportation,
expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation. The
atrocities were renewed between 1920 and 1923. It is estimated
that one and a half million Armenians were killed out of over two
million Armenians who had lived in the Ottoman Empire. It should
be noted that these activities ceased with the institution of the
new Republic of Turkey in October, 1923.

U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide is long past due. By
failing to admit and recognize atrocities that clearly took place we
undermine our Nation’s credibility and commitment to combat genocide.
On April 24, President Bush issued his annual message in remembrance
of the victims of the Armenian Genocide–only he failed to use the
word “genocide.” In failing to refer to the Armenian Genocide
accurately, he has turned his back on his own campaign pledge and on
190 Members of Congress who want the Armenian Genocide recognized. It
is not enough to say “never again.” We must take concrete steps to
give it meaning and to bolster our own resolve. Passing House
Resolution 193 is a small but important step in this ongoing effort to
thwart those who would commit genocide. It is the least we can do for
the millions who have been killed in Turkey, Germany, Rwanda, and
Cambodia. Understanding the lessons of these tragedies will help
prevent future crimes against humanity. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate
this opportunity to honor the victims of genocide, and to urge my
colleagues to always remain cognizant of the pledge our Nation has
made to prevent future acts of genocide.