Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Stress that Commemorating the Genocide will Help Renew America’s Commitment to Preventing Future Crimes Against Humanity
WASHINGTON—The bipartisan leadership of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues today called upon President Obama to renew America’s commitment to genocide prevention by honoring his campaign pledge to properly condemn and commemorate the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We want to thank Congressmen Royce and Pallone for their leadership on behalf of all the members of the Armenian Caucus in encouraging President Obama to honor his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “At this mid-point in the president’s term, we see, sadly, that he has not only failed to keep this promise, but also opposed the adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution and pressured Armenia into the Ankara-driven Turkey-Armenia protocols.”
In a letter sent earlier today to the White House, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) explained that “The United States must not allow these atrocities to pass without recognition and condemnation. As U.S. efforts to aid victims of genocide continue, it is imperative that we pay tribute to the memory of others who have suffered and never forget the past. By commemorating the Armenian Genocide, we renew our commitment to prevent future crimes against humanity.” In the finals weeks of the last session of Congress, a bi-partisan majority of U.S. Representatives was prepared to vote to adopt the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.252, but the measure was not brought to the floor by the House leadership.
Last week, at the Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide Observance, Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) issued similar calls on Obama to honor his genocide pledge. “I expect my president, whom I have supported, to finally come through and stand up for what is right–stand up for what he believed as U.S. Senator, stand up as U.S. President today to say there was an Armenian Genocide, we recognize it, and by recognizing it we honor those who lost their lives and we also put it to the test of history to remember that it should never be repeated again,” stated Menendez.
Quoting from his April 13 letter to the president, Schiff called the Turkey-Armenia protocols a “gambit by Ankara to prevent the administration from using the word ‘genocide,’ and to forestall consideration of a genocide resolution by the Congress.”
Schiff went on to explain, “Turkey’s professed desire for reconciliation with Armenia was illusory. Now that the truth has been revealed, I ask you to return to the clarity you so forcefully expressed in 2008.”
On March 28 of this year, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian sent a letter to Obama in which he explained that “As citizens, we ask only that you, as our president, honor your own commitments, keep faith with your own understanding of the Armenian Genocide and the modern-day consequences of this still unresolved crime, and stand up for a policy that is truthful, just, and worthy of the American people.” The ANCA chairman also invited the president to lay a wreath at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Memorial in Montebello, Calif.
Over 1,00 Armenian American and anti-genocide activists echoed similar calls to Obama to honor his genocide pledge at a protest on April 21 in front of Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, Calif., where the president was hosting a fundraiser for his 2012 reelection campaign.
The full text of the Armenian Caucus letter is provided below.
TEXT OF PALLONE / ROYCE LETTER TO OBAMA
April 22, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to urge you to join us in reaffirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide in your upcoming April 24th commemorative statement.
This Sunday, April 24th marks the 96th anniversary of the systematic and deliberate campaign of genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915. Over the following eight years, one and a half million Armenians were murdered, and more than half a million were forced from their homeland into exile. Despite this human annihilation, many survivors immigrated to the United States and today a vibrant Armenian American community stands as an important part of our nation and our democratic process. As each year passes without Presidential recognition of the Armenian Genocide we forgo an opportunity to properly pay tribute to the survivors who have been some of our country’s most outspoken opponents of human rights violations.
By properly recognizing the crimes against humanity that were committed against the Armenian people as “genocide” in your statement, you will honor those Americans who have acted before you to launch a U.S. diplomatic, political and humanitarian campaign to end the killings of a people and to protect the survivors. The U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, acting on instructions from Secretaries of State William Jennings Bryan and Robert Lansing, protested the slaughter of the Armenians to the Ottoman leaders.
The United States must not allow these atrocities to pass without recognition and condemnation. As U.S. efforts to aid victims of genocide continue, it is imperative that we pay tribute to the memory of others who have suffered and to never forget the past. By commemorating the Armenian Genocide, we renew our commitment to prevent future crimes against humanity.
We look forward to your April 24th statement.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress
EDWARD R. ROYCE
Member of Congress