WASHINGTON—Today, Reps. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), along with 40 other members of the House of Representatives, introduced the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution. This bipartisan resolution calls upon President Barack Obama to work toward equitable, constructive, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based on the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgement of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide. The resolution will also establish a fair, just, and comprehensive international record of this crime against humanity.
“We welcome today’s introduction of the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution, and strongly support this new bipartisan approach to promoting regional peace, protecting Armenia, and preventing future atrocities,” said Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“This innovative, justice-based initiative builds upon the U.S. record of past Armenian Genocide recognition by calling for a new U.S. policy—one that reflects our American values and also recognizes that our national interests will be served by Turkey ending its obstruction of a truthful and just international resolution of this crime,” added Hamparian.
This year, 2015, marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide—a systematic and deliberate annihilation campaign launched in 1915 by the government of the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian population, leaving 1.5 million Armenians dead and millions more displaced. While the Armenian Genocide has been recognized by more than 20 nations, including Canada, Italy, Sweden, France, Argentina, and Russia, as well as the European Parliament, it has not been formally recognized by the U.S. Congress in decades and has not been recognized by Obama.
“Denial of the Armenian Genocide undermines foundations for durable peace and security, making future atrocities more likely,” said Dold. “As the greatest force for human dignity in the world, the United States has an obligation to send an unequivocal message that we will never forget those that were lost, nor shall we tolerate any country that hides behind bully tactics to shroud violations of human rights.”
“One hundred years ago, one and a half million Armenian men, women, and children were deliberately murdered in the first genocide of the 20th century—these facts are indisputable,” said Schiff. “And on this important anniversary and while there are still survivors among us, we in Congress and the president have an opportunity and an obligation to send a strong message that we will never forget those who were lost, and we will call this crime against humanity what it was, genocide. We feel a powerful sense of urgency and the profound call of moral duty to recognize the Armenian Genocide unequivocally and without delay.”
“One hundred years after the genocide, the sense of loss and pain is still strong as many in our community have a direct connection to someone who was unable to escape,” said Valadao. “While those impacted by the genocide are always in our hearts, let us take an extra moment to remember the 2 million Armenians whose lives were lost.”
“As we recognize the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, we remember the one and a half million Armenians who were slaughtered by Ottoman Turks,” said Pallone. “Now is the time for the United States government to do the moral thing and recognize these atrocities for what they are—genocide. While we mark 100 years since this horrible act of violence, we also recommit ourselves to the work of speaking out against oppression and senseless violence. Today, I join my colleagues in remembering the victims and paying homage to the Armenian people who, for thousands of years, have shown their perseverance and strength in the face of great challenges,” said Pallone.
The full text of the resolution, introduced today during a press conference on Capitol Hill, follows.
Calling on the president to work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity.
Whereas the Obama Administration has, since early 2009, sought to improve Armenian-Turkish relations through diplomatic efforts to lift the Republic of Turkey’s blockade of Armenia and facilitate an end to Ankara’s refusal to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan;
Whereas at the start of this process, President Barack Obama had, on April 6, 2009, voiced the United States Government’s expectation that Armenia-Turkey dialogue would “bear fruit very quickly,” but that since then, the Obama Administration has commended Armenia’s participation in this dialogue while holding Turkey largely responsible for the lack of results from this process, with the Secretary of State noting, on June 4, 2012, that, on this matter, “the ball remains in Turkey’s court”;
Whereas on April 24, 2013, President Barack Obama stated, “A full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts is in all of our interests. Nations grow stronger by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past, thereby building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future”;
Whereas the Republic of Turkey, rather than acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past, has escalated its international campaign of Armenian Genocide denial, maintained its blockade of Armenia, and increased its pressure on the small but growing Turkish civil society movement acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and seeking justice for this systematic campaign of destruction of millions of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Pontians, Syriacs, and other Christians upon their biblical-era homelands;
Whereas the United States is on record as having officially recognized the Armenian Genocide, in the United States Government’s May 28, 1951, written statement to the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, through President Ronald Reagan’s April 22, 1981, Proclamation No. 4838, and by Congressional legislation, including House Joint Resolution 148 adopted on April 8, 1975, and House Joint Resolution 247 adopted on Sept. 10, 1984;
Whereas even prior to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the United States has a record of having sought to justly and constructively address the consequences of the Ottoman Empire’s intentional destruction of the Armenian people, including through Senate Concurrent Resolution 12 adopted on Feb. 9, 1916, Senate Resolution 359 adopted on May 11, 1920, and President Woodrow Wilson’s Decision of the President of the United States of America Respecting the Frontier between Turkey and Armenia, Access for Armenia to the Sea, and the Demilitarization of Turkish Territory Adjacent to the Armenian Frontier, dated Nov. 22, 1920;
Whereas President Barack Obama entered office having stated his “firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence,” affirmed his record of “calling for Turkey’s acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide,” and pledged that “as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide”; and
Whereas the United States national interests in the establishment of equitable, constructive, stable, and durable relations between Armenians and Turks cannot be meaningfully advanced by circumventing or otherwise seeking to avoid materially addressing the central political, legal, security, and moral issue between these two nations, Turkey’s denial of truth and justice for the Armenian Genocide: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, that the House of Representatives calls on the President to work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity.