CR: Rep Souder commemorates Armenian Genocide

[Congressional Record: April 28, 2004 (Extensions)]
[Page E696-E697]
>From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []




of indiana

in the house of representatives

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of my colleagues who stood
to commemorate the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 and in memory of
those who died 89 years ago.
The Genocide of 1915-1923 was the culmination of decades of official
Ottoman policies to stamp out Armenia–religiously, culturally, and
ethnically. The “Armenian Question” posed a problem for many

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leaders until a seemingly “brilliant” realization–“No Armenians, No
Armenian Question.” The horrible answer to a perplexing question led
to the slaughter of millions of Armenians and the continuing denial of
the massacres by today’s Turkish government.
The long lists of atrocities have been well documented by numerous
sources. The dwindling number of Armenians who survived the long death
marches still tell chilling stories of their families’ deaths. American
diplomats and missionaries documented brutal attacks on peaceful cities
and towns. German military personnel allied to the Turkish government,
who defied orders to look the other way, compiled a record of death and
destruction throughout the region. Even Turkish parliamentary and
government documents speak to the existence and scope of these
The United States has a long history and long alliance with the
Armenian people. During the massacres of the late Nineteenth century,
tons of humanitarian supplies and hundreds of thousands of dollars
poured into Armenia from the United States in an effort to alleviate
the suffering of the Armenian people. American missionaries and
prominent Americans, including American Red Cross founder Clara Barton,
visited Armenia and aided the starving, homeless, and terrorized.
During the Genocide of 1915-1923, American missionaries documented the
slaughter of Armenian men, women, and children. In some cases,
missionaries risked their own lives to protect Armenians.
Despite a compelling record proving the massacre of millions of human
beings, there are still individuals, organizations, and governments
that deny what happened 89 years ago. Given the United States’
longstanding dedication to combating human rights abuses, it is
shocking that the United States government has not officially
recognized the savage butchery of one of the 20th Century’s worst human
rights violations.
In his book “The Burning Tigris,” Peter Balakian describes the
Genocide as follows:

The plan to liquidate the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire
was put into action in the spring and early summer of 1915.
It was well orchestrated, and in city and town, village and
hamlet, and in the Armenian sections of the major cities of
Asia Minor and Anatolia, Armenians were rounded up, arrested,
and either shot outright or put on deportation marches.
Most often the able-bodied men were arrested in groups and
taken out of the town or city and shot en masse.
In the southeast towns and cities as were both killing
stations and refugee spots, where Armenians who had survived
long death marches from the north lived in concentration
camps, in makeshift tents, or on the desert ground, hoping to
stay alive. Farther south, in the Syrian desert, more
Armenians died than perhaps anywhere else. There the
epicenter of death was the region of Deir el-Zor, where
Armenians died not only of massacre, starvation, and disease
but were stuffed into caves and asphyxiated by brush fires–
primitive gas chambers.
The Committee of Union and Progress’s [Turkish ruling
party] plan to exterminate the Armenians was made possible by
the highest level of government planning: harnessing the
bureaucracy for the organization and implementation of the
Armenian deportations; the formation and organization of
killing squads; the creation and manipulation of legislation,
and the use of technology and communications . . .

The Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 ranks among the Holocaust, Pol
Pot’s Cambodia, Stalin’s starvation of kulaks in the Ukraine, and
Muslim violence against Christians in Sudan as one of the worst
instances of inhumanity and wanton cruelty. No one denies that these
violent events happened. Indeed, the denial of these episodes would be
met with immediate criticism and vociferous censure. Why is Turkey
given a pass when it comes to admitting past mistakes?
I recognize that Turkey is a NATO ally and an ally in the war on
terror. I recognize that the United States needs to maintain friendly
relations with Turkey to help stabilize the Middle East, but as a
friend of Turkey, the United States should be able to take its ally
aside and point out its mistakes. Without recognizing our mistakes and
our shortcomings, we do not learn. Without recognizing malice and
cruelty wherever it is found, we risk forgetting these events and the
lessons to be learned from them.
My deepest sympathies go to the whole of Armenia, and more
importantly, my pity to those who continue to deny or ignore the
massacre of 1.5 million Armenians during the Genocide of 1915-1923.