89TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the
gentleman from New York (Mr. Weiner) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. WEINER. Mr. Speaker, this month many of us pause to remember the
Holocaust in Yom Hashoah commemorations. But on April 24, 1915, the
first genocide of the 20th century began. The Ottoman Empire began
rounding up a group of more than 250 Armenian intellectuals and civic
leaders. Then soldiers of Armenian descent who were serving in the
Turkish military were moved to labor camps and eventually murdered.
Across Anatolia, Armenian leaders were arrested and killed. So, too,
were the most powerless, children, women, and the elderly, all driven
from their homes into the Syrian desert. These mass deportations were
in fact slaughters. They were death marches. Soldiers themselves not
only permitted the attacks on the deportees but participated in the
killing and rapes. The inevitable end was thousands upon thousands
dying of starvation or simply being worked to death, but sometimes
these victims were the lucky ones.
When the Turks deemed deportations impractical, the genocide took
other vicious forms. In communities near the Black Sea, Armenians were
forced onto boats, driven out into the middle of the ocean, and
In the end, 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the genocide as the
world stood by. Henry Morganthau, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, who
pleaded with world leaders to intervene, described the Ottoman effort
to eliminate the Armenian population this way: “The whole history of
the human race contains no such horrible an episode as this.” An
American diplomat stationed in eastern Anatolia cabled back to
Washington that “it has been no secret that the plan was to destroy
the Armenian race as a race, but the methods used could not have been
more cold-blooded and barbarous, if not more effective, than I had
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. If the world fails to remember the Armenian genocide of the
early 20th century, we do more than a grave injustice to those who
perished. We do a disservice to the generations who have come after us
who would be left without the collective memory that binds those who
understand the depth of evil that one community is capable of
unleashing upon another.
Yet even as we remember and grieve, we thank those in the Armenian
community for the contributions they have made around the globe since
emerging from terror 89 years ago. One need not look too far to find
Armenian-Americans who have become pillars of American society.
Armenian-Americans are influential businessmen, like Kirk Kerkorian;
famous writers, like William Saroyan; and international sports stars,
like Andre Agassi.
In New York, internationally renowned scholar and Carnegie
Corporation president Vartan Gregorian spent 8 years as president of
the New York Public Library. Arshile Gorky was a leader of the abstract
expressionist school that flourished in New York during the 1940s. And
I am particularly proud that Raymond Damadian, who invented the MRI,
was not only a resident of New York but was a neighbor of mine in
Forest Hills. His parents were survivors of the genocide.
As we gather, we also pay tribute to those who have become famous
public servants, football coaches, astronauts and others. As we gather
to commemorate the Armenian genocide, we do so as a lesson to one
another that we must not forget the lessons that were learned. We also
gather to pay a message to those who would deny that the Holocaust ever
happened. But perhaps most importantly, we gather to send a signal
across the world that those who seek to deny the Armenian genocide do a
disservice to all of us.
We here in the United States House of Representatives should delay no
further in making our voices heard in this debate. It is worth noting
that the very same people who would deny this Holocaust actively push
that we do not consider the resolution that the gentleman from
California (Mr. Schiff) has proposed.
We gather here today to pay tribute, but we also gather to put
pressure on this United States Congress to finally designate what we
all know to be the case as genocide. The first genocide of the 20th
century was not the last, tragically; but it is time that we correct
the history in the minds of many and finally declare the Armenian
genocide the holocaust that it was.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress