CR: Commemorating the Armenian Genocide – Rep. Maloney




of new york

in the house of representatives

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, as a proud member of the Congressional
Caucus on Armenian Issues, and the representative of a large and
vibrant community of Armenian Americans, I rise today to join my
colleagues in the sad commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Today,
we continue the crusade to ensure that this tragedy is never
forgotten. This 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is an
emotional time. The loss of life experienced by so many families is
devastating. But, in the face of the systematic slaughter of 1.5
million people, the Armenian community has persevered with a vision of
life and freedom. Armenian Americans are representative of the
resolve, bravery, and strength of spirit that is so characteristic of
Armenians around the world. That strength carried them through
humanity’s worst: Upheaval from a homeland of 3,000 years, massacre of
kin, and deportation to foreign lands. That same strength gathers
Armenians around the world to make certain that this tragedy is never
forgotten. Without recognition and remembrance, this atrocity remains
a threat to nations around the world. I’ve often quoted philosopher
George Santayana who said: “Those who do not remember the past are
condemned to repeat it.” And to remember, we must first acknowledge
what it is– Genocide. Tragically, more than 1.5 million Armenians
were systematically murdered at the hands of the Young Turks. More
than 500,000 were deported. It was brutal. It was deliberate. It was
an organized campaign and it lasted more than 8 years. We must make
certain that we remember. Now, we must ensure that the world
recognizes that Armenian people have remembered, and they have
survived and thrived. Out of the crumbling Soviet Union, the Republic
of Armenia was born, and independence was gained. But, independence
has not ended the struggle. To this day, the Turkish government
denies that genocide of the Armenian people occurred and denies its
own responsibility for the deaths of 1.5 million people. In response
to this revisionist history, the Republic of France passed legislation
that set the moral standard for the international community. The
French National Assembly unanimously passed a bill that officially
recognizes the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey during and
after WWI as genocide. Several nations have since joined in the
belief that history should beset straight. Canada, Argentina, Belgium,
Lebanon, The Vatican, Uruguay, the European parliament, Russia,
Greece, Sweden and France, have authored declarations or decisions
confirming that the genocide occurred. As a country, we must join
these nations in recognition of this atrocity.

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I am proud to join more than 100 of my colleagues in cosponsoring H.
Res. 193, which emphasizes the importance of remembering and learning
from past crimes against humanity. We must demand that the United
States officially acknowledge the forced exile and annihilation of 1.5
million people as genocide. Denying the horrors of those years merely
condones the behavior in other places as was evidenced in Rwanda,
Indonesia, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Sudan, and
Iraq. Silence may have been the signal to perpetrators of these
atrocities that they could commit genocide, deny it, and get away with
it. As Americans, the reminder of targeted violence and mass
slaughter is still raw. We lost nearly 3,000 people on September 11. I
cannot imagine the world trying to say that this did not occur. The
loss of 1.5 million people is a global tragedy. A peaceful and stable
South Caucasus region is clearly in the U.S. national
interest. Recognizing the genocide must be a strategy for this goal in
an increasingly uncertain region. One of the most important ways in
which we an honor the memory of the Armenian victims of the past is to
help modern Armenia build a secure and prosperous future. The United
States has a unique history of aid to Armenia, being among the first
to recognize that need, and the first to help. I am pleased with the
U.S. involvement in the emphasis of private sector development,
regionally focused programs, people-to-people linkages and the
development of a civil society. I recently joined many of my
colleagues in requesting funding for Armenia including for Foreign
Military Financing, for Economic Support Funds, and for assistance to
Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia has made impressive progress in rebuilding
a society and a nation in the face of dramatic obstacles. I will
continue to take a strong stand in support of Armenia’s commitment to
democracy, the rule of law, and a market economy–I am proud to stand
with Armenia in doing so. But there is more to be done. Conflict
persists in the Nagorno- Karabakh region. Congress has provided
funding for confidence building in that region, and I will continue my
support of that funding and the move toward a brighter future for
Armenia. But in building our future, we must not forget our past. That
is why I strongly support the efforts of the Armenian community in the
construction of the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum. Because so
many Armenians have spoken of the destruction, they have made certain
that we remember. Nothing we can do or say will bring those who
perished back to life, but we can imbue their memories with
everlasting meaning by teaching the lessons of the Armenian genocide
to the next generation and help Armenia build its future.