Schiff Presses Clinton On Misrepresenting Armenian Genocide


Clinton speaks at House sub-committee hearing on Wednesday

WASHINGTON-In response to a question by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
regarding her recent statements misrepresenting the Armenian Genocide
as a ‘historical debate,’ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on
Wednesday avoided proper reference to the genocide, instead arguing
that the “terrible events” should be a matter of discussion between
Turkey and Armenia alone.

In his question at House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Foreign
Operations, Rep. Schiff referenced the U.S. record of affirming the
Armenian Genocide, citing a document submitted to the International
Court of Justice in 1951 clearly referencing the Armenian Genocide,
President Ronald Reagan’s affirmation of the Armenian Genocide in
1981 and Secretary Clinton’s own statements as Senator properly
characterizing those crimes.

“The Armenian Genocide is a crime against all humanity, requiring
international justice, not a bilateral conflict between nations
needing mediation,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

“According to her morally and factually flawed logic, America and
the international community should have remained silent in the
face of the Holocaust and other genocides, in Rwanda and elsewhere,
leaving it to the perpetrators and victims of these crimes to come to
a common understanding of their past. It’s truly a sad spectacle to
see Secretary Clinton pressured by Turkey to dance around the truth
and play word games with genocide.”

Both Representatives Jesse Jackson (D-IL) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ)
associated themselves with Rep. Schiff’s statement and inquiry during
the hearing.

Earlier this week, more than 60 Members of the House of Representatives
sent a letter to Secretary Clinton, asking her to renounce her recent
public mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide. In that letter,
Members stated that the “historically inaccurate description of the
Armenian Genocide as an open question, in addition to the offense
it represents to Armenian Americans and other victims of genocide,
provides American encouragement to the Republic of Turkey in its
shameful campaign of denial.”

Read the Congressional letter to Clinton.

Below are excerpts from the transcript of Schiff’s questions and
Secretary Clinton’s responses from the hearing:

SCHIFF: And I want to join my colleagues in thanking you for your
extraordinary service to the country at a time when the Middle East
is in turmoil, we have the succession going on in North Korea, new
challenges from Iran, rising leadership from China. Having your steady
hand at the tiller of the ship of state is a great comfort to all
of us. We were enormously proud of the very strong remarks you made
on the Syrian crisis, and the well-deserved criticism you leveled at
Russia and China for their complicity in the ongoing violence.

But set against this stellar record of achievement are some actions
that were taken by you and the administration with regard to the
Armenian genocide that are of great concern. I can’t begin to express
in mere words how much anguish has been caused in the Armenian-American
community and among human rights activists about recent statements
at a State Department Town Hall that you made.

In 1951, while the experience of the Holocaust was still tragically
fresh, the United States issued this statement at the International
Court of Justice. It was the statement of the United States government
on the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, and
it said, ” … the Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish
massacres of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and
Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide.”

Again, in the 1980s President Reagan recognized the Armenian genocide,
as did the Congress. And as recently as just a few years ago, both
you as senator and our president as senator, spoke unequivocally of
the Armenian genocide.

Your comments were very powerful. ” … the horrible events perpetrated
by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of
genocide.” you said. “Our common morality and our nation’s credibility
as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian
genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the president
of the United States.”

But last month you made some very different statements, and said, ” …

I think it’s fair to say that this has always been viewed, and I think
properly so, as a matter of historical debate and conclusions, rather
than political. And I think that this is the right posture for the
U.S. government to be in, because whatever the terrible event might
be, or the high emotions that it represents, to try to use government
power to resolve historical issues I think opens a door that is very
dangerous to go through.

This is, tragically, very much the line of the Turkish government. And
many in the Armenian community are wondering how we could go from such
a powerful position in the state senate, such a powerful position
that we took decades ago before the International Court of Justice,
the powerful voice that President Reagan brought to this issue,
to where we were last month.

And I want to ask you, is there any question that you have that the
facts of that tragic period between 1915 and 1923 constitute genocide?

Do you have any different view on the subject now than you did as a
state – as a U.S. senator?

CLINTON: Well, Congressman, you know, you quoted something that I said
in response to a question about France trying to criminalize speech
about this terrible event in history. And I do think criminalizing
speech is a dangerous path to go down. And in fact, as I understand
it, the French courts just declared that law unconstitutional under
the French constitution.

So let me be very clear. The United States recognizes the events of
1915 as one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. And every
April 24th the president honors the victims and expresses American
solidarity with the Armenian people.

And the president has said in his Remembrance Day statements that the
achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts
of what happened is in everyone’s interest.

He’s also said that the best way to advance that goal is for the
Armenian and Turkish people to address the facts of the past as a
part of their effort to move forward.

And President Obama, like presidents before him, strongly supports the
efforts of Turkey and Armenia to normalize their bilateral relations.

So we believe that this is a position that fully reflects the terrible
events of 1915 but also is aimed at trying to create a climate in
which these two peoples and nations can move forward together.

SCHIFF: I – I’m sorry to interrupt but I – I’m gonna run out of time.

And – and no one is quarreling with a position against criminalizing
speech in this country. No one is advocating that.