CR: Time to Remember the Armenian Genocide – Rep. McGovern


Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, this April marks the 89th anniversary of
the cataclysmic events that occurred in the Turkish Ottoman Empire
between 1915 and 1923, where 1.5 million Armenians were killed and
over a half million survivors were forcibly deported into exile. On
Sunday, I had the privilege to participate in a service at the
Armenian Church of Our Savior in Worcester, Massachusetts, where in
the presence of 19 survivors, the community of Worcester paid homage
to the martyrs and survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their
descendents. Mr. Speaker, last May, the House Committee on the
Judiciary reported out House Resolution 193. We have been waiting for
nearly 1 year now for the Speaker of the House to schedule this bill
for a debate and for a vote, and I would urge at this time that the
Speaker schedule this bill as quickly as possible so that the House of
Representatives may join those nations and those scholars who affirm
the Genocide Convention and recognize the Armenian Genocide and
Holocaust as genocides of the 20th century. Mr. Speaker, I am
submitting for the Record comments I made at the Armenian Church of
Our Savior this past Sunday.

I would very much like to thank Father Terzian and the
community of faith of the Armenian Church of Our Savior for
inviting me once again to this commemoration. It is one of the
great privileges of my office to participate in this annual day
of remembrance of the martyrs and survivors of the Armenian
Genocide. It is a privilege to be in the company of our city’s
mayor, the Honorable Tim Murray, and in the company of Councilor
Petty, Representative Leary, Representative Fresolo, Senator
Moore, Senator Glodis, and Selectman Montocalvo. And I am very
much looking forward to the pleasure of hearing the Worcester
Chorale perform after their five-month break, under the
continuing leadership of Maestro Petrossian. It is also a
pleasure for me to share the podium with Nathaniel Mencow, who is
so well known for his work as a historian, and who has worked for
so long for the recognition of the heroic service of his brother,
First Lieutenant William Martin Mencow, who gave his life in
defense of freedom during World War II. But I am most privileged
and most honored to be here in the presence of survivors of the
Armenian Genocide, their descendents, and the descendents of
those who perished in the genocide. This April marks the 89th
anniversary of the cataclysmic events that occurred in the
Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923, where one-and-a-half
million Armenians were killed and over half-a-million survivors
were exiled. Our city has been especially blessed by the
presence and contributions of a large and vital Armenian
community. Each year we come to this church to recognize, honor
and remember that this rich heritage is, in part, a sad
inheritance paid with the blood of millions of innocent men,
women and children. I know that most of you are aware that
legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of
Representatives which reaffirms U.S. support for the Genocide
Convention, calls upon the president and the U.S. government to
work to prevent future genocides, and recognizes the Armenian
Genocide. This bill, H. Res. 193, has 110 bipartisan cosponsors
and was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee last May.
It has been waiting for nearly one year now for the Speaker of
the House, Dennis Hastert, to put it on the schedule of the House
for debate and vote. I am always amazed that there are those in
Congress who view this bill as controversial. They are
influenced, in part, by those voices who continue to deny that
the Armenian Genocide or the Holocaust, which is also cited in
this bill, ever happened. The Turkish government, for example,
claims that the Armenian Genocide does not meet the definition of
genocide, despite the fact that the father of the Genocide
Convention, human rights pioneer Rafael Lemkin, specifically
cited the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide as the two clear
instances of genocidal crimes covered by the Convention.
Contrary to the Turkish government’s claims, legal scholars,
historians, human rights organizations, journalists and the
majority of political leaders around the world firmly believe and
assert that the 1915 mass slaughter of Armenians fits the legal
definition of genocide. Israel Charney, the noted genocide and
Holocaust scholar and the editor of the respected Encyclopedia of
Genocide, has written extensively about the psychology of
genocide denial. He has stressed that to deny the countless
deaths of a known event of genocide is to celebrate those deaths
and to send a signal that the power that brought about this
destruction is still in force and can be used again when
opportunity permits. To seek to erase agonizing memories–to
assert that those memories are false–is to

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openly mock the feelings and sensibilities of the victims and
their descendents–to once again victimize the victims. This is
why it is so important to recognize–openly and freely,
officially and informally, every single day–the events of the
Armenian Genocide. America, along with the rest of the world, is
famous for using the words “never again,” when speaking about
the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust carried out by Nazi
Germany. Unfortunately, “never again” happens over and over
again–in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Kosovo, and now in present- day
Sudan. It has been a blessing to me in my work that when
genocide threatens any people, anywhere in the world, the
Armenian- American community has always worked to bring these
events to my attention and to the attention of U.S. and
international policy-makers. The Armenian-American community has
always joined with other organizations to educate the public
about present-day horrors and to organize relief and support for
victims and survivors. In this way, through these works, the
tragedy of the Armenian Genocide is transformed into a legacy of
life, of hope, of survival and resistance. So, I come here today
not only to remember and honor the martyrs, survivors and
descendants of the Armenian Genocide, but to honor and celebrate
this community, which has given back so much to this city and our
country. Please let me thank you–each and every one of you–for
allowing me to share this day with you.