CR: Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide – Rep. Costello




of illinois

in the house of representatives

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Mr. COSTELLO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the
victims of one of history’s most terrible tragedies, the Armenian
Genocide. April 24, 1915 is remembered and solemnly commemorated each
year by the Armenian community and others throughout the world. On
that day, Armenian religious, political, and intellectual leaders were
arrested in Constantinople, taken to the interior of Turkey and
murdered. In the years that followed, Armenians living under Ottoman
rule were systematically deprived of their homes, property, freedom,
dignity, and ultimately their lives. By 1923, 1.5 million Armenians
had been massacred and 500,000 more had been deported. The Armenian
Genocide is a historical fact, despite the efforts of some to minimize
its scope and deny its occurrence. Many of the survivors of the
genocide came to the United States, where they and their descendants
have contributed to our society in countless ways. In my district,
there is a significant population of Armenian survivors and their
families that showed heroic courage and a will to survive. With faith
and courage, generations of Armenians have overcome great suffering
and proudly preserved their culture, traditions, and religion and have
told the story of the genocide to an often indifferent world. As
Members of Congress and people of conscience, we must work to overcome
the indifference and distortions of history, and ensure that future
generations know what happened. Mr. Speaker, genocide is the most
potent of all crimes against humanity because it is an effort to
systematically wipe out a people and a culture as well as individual
lives. Denying that genocide took place when there are recorded
accounts of barbarity and ethnic violence is an injustice. This was a
tragic event in human history, but by paying tribute to the Armenian
community we ensure the lessons of the Armenian genocide are properly
understood and acknowledged. I am pleased my colleagues and I have
this opportunity to ensure this tragedy is remembered.