Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street NW Suite 904
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648
E-mail: [email protected]
May 6, 2004
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918
SENATE AND HOUSE MEMBERS COMMEMORATE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
IN FLOOR SPEECHES
WASHINGTON, DC – Over 25 Senate and House Members joined Armenians
around the world last week in commemorating the 89th Anniversary of
the Armenian Genocide, offering “Special Order” remarks on the House
floor and Congressional statements made in the weeks surrounding
April 24th, reported the Armenian National Committee of America
Congressional Armenian Caucus co-chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
organized the April 27th House commemoration, providing
Representatives with an opportunity to offer 5-minute statements in
remembrance of the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Turkish
Government from 1915-1923. Senators and House Members also
submitted additional statements in the days surrounding April 24th.
“We want to thank Congressman Pallone for taking the leadership
every year in hosting this Special Order,” said ANCA Executive
Director Aram Hamparian. “We appreciate, as well, all the hard
work by Armenian American organizations and individuals throughout
the U.S., educating their federal, state and local legislators
about the Armenian Genocide and the terrible consequences of its
During their statements, many Senate and House members urged
support for legislation marking the 15th anniversary of the U.S.
implementation of the U.N. Genocide Convention. H.Res.193 and
S.Res.164 cite the importance of learning the lessons of the
Holocaust as well as the Armenian, Cambodian and Rwandan genocides
to prevent similar tragedies in the future. The House version of
the measure has 111 cosponsors and was adopted unanimously by the
Judiciary Committee last May. Its Senate counterpart currently has
Excerpts from the Senate and House floor speeches follow.
SENATORS (listed in alphabetical order)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA): This week marks the 89th anniversary of
the Armenian Genocide. Between 1915 and 1923, the Ottoman Empire
conducted the first Genocide of the 20th Century, killing an
estimated 1.5 million Armenians and displacing thousands more. The
campaign was so devastating that at the beginning of World War I,
there were 2.1 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire.
Following the Genocide, fewer than 100,000 Armenians remained.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI): The international community has a long
way to go in punishing and especially, preventing genocide. But we
have made the first steps. As we move forward, we must learn the
lessons of Armenia’s genocide. Can we recognize the rhetorical
veils of murderous leaders, thrown up to disguise the agenda at
hand? Have we, the international community, learned that we must
not stand by, paralyzed, as horrors occur, but work collectively to
prevent and stop genocides from occurring? We owe the victims of
the Armenian genocide this commitment.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): I am proud to represent an Armenian
community of half a million in my great State of California. They
are a strong and resilient community, taking strength in the
tragedies of the past and the promise of a better tomorrow. This
community is leading the effort to preserve the memory of the
Armenian Genocide not only for future generations of Armenian
Americans, but, indeed, for all Americans and all citizens of the
world. I urge my colleagues to join me in remembering the first
genocide of the 20th century. Through our commemoration of this
tragedy, we make clear that we will not tolerate mass murder and
ethnic cleansing ever again and we will never forget.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI): I believe the highest tribute we can pay to
the victims of a genocide is by acknowledging the horrors they
faced and reaffirming our commitment to fight against such heinous
acts in the future. In commemorating the tragedy of the genocide
today, I would also like to recognize the fact that yesterday
Canada’s House of Commons, took the courageous step of officially
recognizing that the events initiated on April 24, 1915, were in
fact a genocide and crime against humanity. It is my hope that all
people of goodwill will join in calling this tragedy by its correct
name–a genocide. I hope that our colleagues will join me in
commemorating this tragedy and vowing to honor and remember the
innocent victims of the Armenian genocide.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI): Thus, as we reflect on this atrocity, let us
call for our own country to recognize the Armenian Genocide, just
as my own State of Rhode Island has done, and as the parliaments of
Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Russia,
and Sweden have done over the past 6 years. Let us also pledge
never to ignore atrocities by those who claim the legitimacy of
government. We must never ignore and we will never forget.
REPRESENTATIVES (listed in alphabetical order)
Rep: Rob Andrews (D-NJ): The senseless crime of genocide is one of
the most reprehensible acts that can be committed by man. To
attempt eradication of an entire population based on a misguided
prejudice is absolutely vile, and the United States should do
everything in its power to try and prevent such atrocities from
happening in the future. Only by explicitly defining genocide and
ensuring that all cases of genocide throughout history are
appropriately identified can we effectively deter this crime.
Particularly at this time of heightened vigilance around the world,
it is absolutely imperative that America take a strong stance
against the most troubling of all terrorist acts, mass killings.
Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA): It is important to recognize the historical
atrocities perpetrated against the Armenians. We must teach our
children about the fear, torture, mass graves, and expulsions of
the Armenian people. Through education and commemoration, our
children can grow up to be better citizens and better Americans.
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): Mr. Speaker, tonight I rise to remind the
world that the 24th of April marked the 89th anniversary of the
Armenian Genocide, a systematic and deliberate campaign of genocide
of the Ottoman Empire. Also, it marked yet another year with the
U.S. formally not recognizing the atrocities that occurred.
Considering how well documented the genocide is in the U.S.
archives and through an overwhelming body of first-hand,
governmental, and diplomatic evidence, this is nothing less than a
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL): 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.
Rep Cal Dooley (D-CA): Our statements today are intended to
preserve the memory of the Armenian loss, and to remind the world
that the Turkish government–to this day–refuses to acknowledge
the Armenian Genocide. The truth of this tragedy can never and
should never be denied.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ): Even more disturbing are the governments,
institutions, scholars, and individuals who deny the enormity of
these crimes against humanity. It is inconceivable that individuals
and governments continue to ignore the substantial evidence–
including numerous survivor accounts, photodocumentaries, and
official documents in the archives of the United States, Britain,
France, Austria, and the Vatican–that prove these atrocities took
place. It is also frustrating that some rationalize these crimes or
refuse to recognize this premeditated ethnic cleansing as genocide.
Michael Honda (D-CA): 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.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): This genocide is another significant
example of the injustice, torture, pain, and death that grows out
of intolerance, cruelty, and hatred. There are still a great
number of survivors of the genocide in America and many of their
children and grandchildren reside throughout the country. On this
day we join them in remembering and acknowledging the heinous act
that victimized their families. If we let such atrocities be
forgotten, then we are in danger of letting them be repeated.
Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI): Mr. Speaker, for myself and my
constituents, I rise today to urge those who deny this genocide to
accept it as fact. Only then can we move forward and stop these
atrocities from repeating themselves over and over again.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): 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.
Rep. George McGovern (D-MA): 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.
Michael McNulty (D-NY): From 1915 to 1923, the world witnessed the
first genocide of the 20th century. This was clearly one of the
world’s greatest tragedies–the deliberate and systematic Ottoman
annihilation of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children.
Furthermore, another 500,000 refugees fled and escaped to various
points around the world–effectively eliminating the Armenian
population of the Ottoman Empire.
Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA): To deny this truth is to tarnish the
memories of the millions of Armenians who lost their lives to
ethnic cleansing. As a member of the Congressional Armenian Caucus,
I have joined my colleagues in sending a letter to President Bush
urging him to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide during his April
24th commemoration address. By drawing attention to the legacy of
this genocide, we can strengthen our resolve to prevent future
human tragedies of this kind.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ): Mr. Speaker, the unfortunate thing is,
although so many other countries and so many of our own States have
recognized the Armenian genocide, we in the Congress continue not
to recognize it. I think it is important that we do so. The
gentleman from California (Mr. Schiff) was here earlier, and he
mentioned the House Genocide Resolution, H. Res. 193, which has now
111 cosponsors. The resolution was adopted unanimously by the House
Committee on the Judiciary on May 21, 2003, but it has not been
brought to the floor for consideration. I would urge the Speaker
and the leaders on the Republican side of the aisle to bring this
resolution to the floor. It is important that they do so.
Adam Schiff (D-CA): For those of us who care deeply about the
issue, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that our Nation,
which has championed liberty and human rights throughout its
history, is not complicit in Ankara’s effort to obfuscate what
happened between 1915 and 1923. Worse still, by tacitly siding with
those who would deny the Armenian genocide, we have rendered hollow
our commitment to never again let genocide occur.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): It is time for Turkey to acknowledge this
genocide, because only in that way can the Turkish government and
its people rise above it. The German government has been quite
forthcoming in acknowledging the Holocaust, and in doing so it has
at least been respected by the peoples of the world for its
honesty. Turkey should follow that example rather than trying to
Mark Souder (R-IN): 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.
Rep. John Tierney (D-MA): I rise today to speak on one of the most
unspeakable acts that ever came to pass. Beginning in 1915,
innocent and unsuspecting Armenians of all ages were led by Ottoman
Empire officials from their villages to their brutal death. Such
atrocities endured for eight years. By 1923, an estimated 1.5
million Armenians were massacred.
Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN): Sadly, there are some people who still
deny the very existence of this period which saw the
institutionalized slaughter of the Armenian people and dismantling
of Armenian culture. To those who would question these events, I
point to the numerous reports contained in the U.S. National
Archives detailing the process that systematically decimated the
Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. However, old records are
too easily forgotten–and dismissed. That is why we come together
every year at this time: to remember in words what some may wish to
file away in archives. This genocide did take place, and these
lives were taken. That memory must keep us forever vigilant in our
efforts to prevent these atrocities from ever happening again
Diane Watson (D-CA): Turkey’s failure to acknowledge the truth is a
burden on the alliance between our two nations. I would say to our
President, it should be called as it is, a crime of genocide. So I
call upon the President of the United States to uphold the
commitment he made back when he was running for President and put
the United States of America on record acknowledging the Armenian
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA): We must identify ways to facilitate the
lifting of the blockade against Armenia and encourage a peaceful
resolution of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabagh. We must help
Armenia continue to flourish as a burgeoning democracy, extend
Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to strengthen her
economy, and stand ready to help maintain her military strength.
Let us resolve ourselves to ensure that the coming year will be one
that brings full recognition of the genocide that took place, and
peace to the region and the memory of those who perished.
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): Like communities that survived the
Nazis efforts at extermination, the Armenian community today is
often faced by those who deny the Turkish effort to commit genocide
ever occurred. Despite records and accounts preserved in our own
National Archives, there have been those bent on erasing this
horrible memory from the annals of history. We will not let that
happen. That is why today’s commemoration here in the United States
Congress and those going on this week is so crucial.