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Schiff and Bilirakis Rally Support for Sustained U.S. Policy of Official Armenian Genocide Recognition

ATTENTION! The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is an Armenian independent democratic state.
Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) are spearheading the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the 116th Congress.

Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) are spearheading the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the 116th Congress.


ANCA-Backed Bipartisan Resolution Affirms that the United States Rejects Efforts to Associate the U.S. Government with Armenian Genocide Denial


WASHINGTON—Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) called on their House colleagues on Monday to join them in launching the Armenian Genocide Resolution, bipartisan legislation aimed at establishing, as a matter of U.S. policy, 1) the rejection of Armenian Genocide denial, 2) ongoing official U.S. government recognition and remembrance of this crime, and 3) the importance of Armenian Genocide education in preventing modern-day atrocities, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.


The resolution’s authors are currently asking collecting original cosponsors for the legislation and are expected to introduce their measure on the House floor soon thereafter.


“We want to thank Congressman Schiff and Bilirakis for building bipartisan support for legislation pivoting from past U.S. recognitions toward a sustained U.S. policy of official Armenian Genocide commemoration,” said ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian. “Beyond institutionalizing the ongoing recognition and regular remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, this measure would, very notably, formally reject – once and forever – any association of the U.S. government or the American people with the denial of this crime.”


In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to U.S. Representatives by Congressmen Schiff and Bilirakis, they asked their House colleagues to “join us as a cosponsor of a resolution affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide, which recognizes and memorializes the historical fact of the Ottoman Empire’s genocidal campaign against the Armenian people, as well as the Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and other religious minorities, from 1915 to 1923.” The letter acknowledges the life-saving U.S. humanitarian efforts during the Armenian Genocide, reminding colleagues that “Congress passed first of its kind legislation to establish the Near East Relief effort which provided millions of dollars in food and aid to survivors, including tens of thousands of orphans.”


Congressmen Schiff and Bilirakis took on Ankara’s anticipated opposition to an honest U.S. remembrance of the Armenian Genocide head-on, writing: “Let us be direct. Genocide recognition is opposed by a single entity: The government of Turkey. For decades, Turkey has deployed threats and an intense campaign of lobbying to intimidate the Congress from recognizing the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire.” They went on to argue that: “Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide is also a source of continued regional tension, undermining the foundations of a durable peace that would be in the best interests of the United States and our national security. Official recognition of the Armenian Genocide can help open a new chapter in United States foreign policy. It is time for the United States to take a stand for the truth, and against genocide denial.”


The full text of the Schiff-Bilirakis letter is provided below.


The Armenian Genocide Resolution notes that the U.S. has, as early as 1951, officially recognized the Armenian Genocide through a filing with the International Court of Justice, followed by House legislation adopted in 1975, and 1984 and President Ronald Reagan’s Proclamation in 1984.


The resolution resolves that it is the policy of the United States to:


1. Commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance;


2. Reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the U.S. Government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide; and


3. Encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the U.S. role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.

Text of the Schiff-Bilirakis “Dear Colleague” regarding the Armenian Genocide Resolution


Dear Colleague:


We ask that you join us as a cosponsor of a resolution affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide, which recognizes and memorializes the historical fact of the Ottoman Empire’s genocidal campaign against the Armenian people, as well as the Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and other religious minorities, from 1915 to 1923. Millions of men, women, and children were killed, shot, beaten, starved, and raped as they were marched through deserts and over mountains. When the killing finally ended, 1.5 million Armenians had been killed and millions more had been displaced from the land of their birth.


There is no debate among historians that the Ottoman Empire committed atrocities against the Armenians, or that it meets the definition of a “genocide.” Indeed, the facts of the genocide were recorded contemporaneously by American diplomats, including the Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, who transmitted a flood of cables and reports describing the wholesale slaughter of the Armenians. It was partially the study of the experience of the Armenians which inspired Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew whose family was killed in the Holocaust, to coin the word “genocide” to describe the crime of destroying an entire people and culture.


The campaign to destroy the Armenian people failed, in part thanks to the humanitarian assistance provided by the American people. Hearing reports of the wholesale killing and displacement of Armenians and other minorities in the Ottoman Empire, Americans responded with generosity and support. Congress passed first of its kind legislation to establish the Near East Relief effort which provided millions of dollars in food and aid to survivors, including tens of thousands of orphans.


For over 100 years, genocide survivors and their descendants have sought truth and justice. They have fought to have this horrific chapter in their history recognized by the international community and, for the sizeable Armenian-American diaspora, by their own government. Forty-eight U.S. states have recognized the Armenian Genocide, as have 28 foreign nations including some of our closest allies. Although the United States has made direct reference to the genocide in the past, including by proclamation of President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and through the passage of House Resolutions in 1975 and 1984, Congressional acceptance of the fact of the genocide is long overdue.


Let us be direct. Genocide recognition is opposed by a single entity: The government of Turkey. For decades, Turkey has deployed threats and an intense campaign of lobbying to intimidate the Congress from recognizing the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire.


Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide is also a source of continued regional tension, undermining the foundations of a durable peace that would be in the best interests of the United States and our national security. Official recognition of the Armenian Genocide can help open a new chapter in United States foreign policy. It is time for the United States to take a stand for the truth, and against genocide denial.


The United States should never be complicit in genocide denial, what Elie Wiesel described as the final stage of genocide and a “double killing.” As we confront continuing mass atrocities around the world, including the genocide of religious minorities carried out by ISIS in Syria and Iraq or the extermination of the Rohingya in Burma, Congress’s silence about the Armenian Genocide of a century ago undermines our moral standing. It must end.


To join us as an original cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide resolution, please contact Caroline Nicholas in Rep. Schiff’s office or Shayne Woods in Rep. Bilirakis’s office.


Sincerely,

Adam B. Schiff

Member of Congress


Gus M. Bilirakis

Member of Congress

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