Sassounian: Congress May Cut off Aid to Turkey for Hosting Sudan’s Genocidal President

A Congressional committee adopted an amendment last month that would suspend U.S. foreign aid to any country hosting a visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Members of Congress intend to isolate this brutal leader and help bring him to court for his crimes in Darfur.

Omar al-Bashir

Congress decided to take this action after several countries, including Turkey and Egypt, ignored the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in March 2009 that charged the Sudanese president with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur. In contravention of their international obligations, these countries hosted visits by al-Bashir, instead of capturing and dispatching him to the ICC for prosecution.

In November 2009, when he was about to visit Ankara, Amnesty International warned: “It would be a disgrace for Turkey to offer him safe haven. If the Turkish authorities fail to arrest President Omar al-Bashir and hand him over to the ICC, this would be inconsistent with Turkey’s international obligations. It would not only amount to obstruction of justice, but just as offering shelter to a fleeing bank robber constitutes a crime under national law, so, too, would sheltering a fugitive from international justice be complicity in crime.”

Four U.S. non-governmental organizations issued a joint statement in November 2009 criticizing the Obama Administration for refusing to protest the Sudanese president’s visit to Turkey. The NGO’s sought to ensure that “a wanted war criminal does not continue to travel with impunity.”

Meanwhile, the Turkish prime minister not only allowed the Sudanese president to visit Turkey, but tried to absolve him of any wrongdoing by claiming that “Muslims don’t commit genocide!” Making matters worse, Turkey continues to sell lethal weapons to Sudan, helping al-Bashir kill more innocent people.

To put an end to such irresponsible behavior by Turkey and many other countries, the House Appropriations Committee adopted on May 17, 2012, an amendment to a State Department funding bill that would cut off non-humanitarian aid to countries that do not comply with the ICC’s directive. The amendment sponsored by Cong. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) states that no economic assistance will be provided by the United States “to any country that admits President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.”

After reports began circulating that the Obama administration was trying to block this proposed law, 70 leading Holocaust and genocide scholars signed a joint letter on June 14 urging the White House to support the Congressional amendment that would stop providing assistance to countries hosting Sudan’s president. Among the signatories of the letter are Dr. Israel Charny of Jerusalem, Dr. Irving Greenberg, former chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Dr. Deborah Dwork of Clark University.

The scholars’ letter, organized by the David S. Wyman of the Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington, D.C., was sent to presidential advisor Dr. Samantha Power, who heads the recently established Atrocities Prevention Board. The scholars reminded Power that in her Pulitzer Prize winning book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, she had urged the U.S. government to adopt “economic sanctions” to counter genocidal actions. Since the proposed bill “does exactly that,” the 70 signatories expressed the hope that Power and the White House would support Wolf’s amendment, particularly when it is brought up for reconciliation between the House and Senate.

It is doubtful, however, that Samantha Power will speak out in favor of this amendment. Since joining the White House staff, she has distanced herself from the issues she had boldly advocated in her book. She has also remained eerily silent on Obama’s unfulfilled pledges regarding the Armenian Genocide. Power had issued several appeals during the last presidential campaign, seeking the Armenian American community’s support for Barack Obama’s candidacy. She had solemnly pledged that Obama would acknowledge the Armenian Genocide after the election.

So far, Armenian Americans have not gotten involved in lobbying for the adoption of this important bill, most probably because they were unaware of its introduction in Congress. Armenian scholars were also left out of this issue, since no one approached them to obtain their support.

An aide to Wolf advised this writer that the Congressman would appreciate the Armenian American community’s support for this bill, which would discourage Turkey and other countries from wining and dining al-Bashir, and help bring this indicted criminal to justice.

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Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the United Armenian Fund, a coalition of the seven largest Armenian-American organizations. He has been decorated by the president and prime minister of the Republic of Armenia, and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

15 Comments

  1. Lately the US have intensified her critics towards Turkey but unfortunately they staid on verbal platform only… Turkey is successful blackmailing America without any reaction from the US. Sad.

  2. You’re dreaming; Israel and Turkey are untouchables. What is so special when Turkey receives her genocidal kin? before punishing Turkey for the genocide in Soudan, they petter punish her for the Armenian genocide.

    • Here are the figures from the State Dept. website on US aid to Turkey:
      “As part of the cooperative effort to further Turkish economic and military self-reliance, the United States has loaned and granted Turkey more than $7 billion in economic aid and more than $14 billion in military assistance over several years.”

  3. “Genis,”

    Once again I am violating my own rule of not responding to those who hide behind fake names, but since I started this chain, let me complete it.

    Please re-read my quote. The source is the State Dept., not the link you are referring to. You are also misreading the sentence you have quoted. It does not say that Turkey got that aid in 1947-1950. It says that the aid started at that time and continues up to the present.

    Anyway, the issue is not the amount of aid to Turkey, even that is $1. Are you proud of the fact that Turkey is wining and dining a mass murderer indicted by the International Criminal Court? This is a shameful behavior by any country, particularly Turkey, since it has the blood of Armenian Genocide victims in its immediate past. By sheltering Sudan’s genocidal leader, Turkey’s leaders are also reminding the world of the genocide committed by their own ancestors.

    • Dear Mr. Sassounian,

      I thank you very much for your kind reply. I thank you one more time for breaking your principles for me. I appreciate that.

      About The Marshal aid in 1947:

      I know it happened once. But i would like to know if there was any more after 1950 because you clearly say in your article that the US Congress may cut off aid to Turkey.

      What i am lost in is: how can an aid which does actually not exist be cut off ?

      Or, There is some which i am not aware of ?

      Thank you again.

      Sincerely yours,

      Necati Genis

  4. Mr. Sassounian:

    Please do not lower yourself and explain anything to the hate-filled, rabidly Anti- Armenian Denialist.
    You are obviously not familiar with him. (he posts under Necati Genis, Necati, or Genis: same guy).

    Let me paste a couple of his old posts:

    {necati , 26 December 2011 , 00:22
    _________, whenever your grand mother opens her underwear in the tomb, then ATASE will open strategic archives of Turkish Army..}

    That comment was posted at TodaysZaman. It was addressed to a polite Armenian poster who frequently comments at AW and TZ. (wasn’t me: I am not polite)

    This one is a gem: posted @AW:

    https://armenianweekly.com/2011/08/19/new-armenian-church-in-iraqi-kurdistan/#comments

    {necati
    August 20, 2011 editor: i know you think i am a fascist, racist .
    you know that i was full of humanity until i met you Gaymenians in this f_____ AW? this is another reason for me to hate you gaymenians. you made me an animal.}

    The individual is obviously in need of competent professional help.
    Even his fellow Turks posting @TZ think he is a deeply disturbed man.

  5. Necati genis,

    Also one more thing for your prescious ego: No one can enlighten you unless you realize where you come from and how did you happen to be.
    I suggest you to start from the village you come from. Mirror will come handy too.
    It will be the best quest of your life. Be open minded. Good luck.

  6. “Genis,”

    The United States has given to Turkey hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars of aid since the Marshall plan. I can’t do the research for you. Please look it up on the internet. Nowadays, Turkey still receives millions of dollars of aid. Just ask the Turkish Embassy.

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