PROVIDENCE, R.I—The Rhode Island House and Senate recently passed resolutions commemorating both the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. This was the first time a joint resolution for both genocides was introduced. Previously, resolutions for the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust were introduced and passed separately. However, this year, the commemorations fell on the same day.
In the spirit of unity and a show of mutual support, both House Bill H6120, sponsored by Representative Katherine Kazarian and Senate Bill 0825, sponsored by Senator Gayle Goldin, named Commemorating “Holocaust Remembrance Day” and “Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day” and “Avowing That These Atrocities Shall Never Be Repeated,” were introduced and then passed unanimously. The passage of the resolutions comes one year after the passage of legislation requiring Genocide and Holocaust education be taught in Rhode Island’s middle and high schools.
The Armenian Genocide was centrally planned and administered by the Turkish government against the entire Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923. Over 1.5 million Armenians, more than three-quarters of the population, were murdered after being subjected to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation.
The Holocaust, also referred to as the Shoah, was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators in Europe from 1939 to 1945. Nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the “Final Solution,” were brutally murdered.
Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, Rhode Island middle and high school teachers will be educating students on genocide including, but not limited to, the Holocaust and the Armenian, Cambodian, Rwandan, and Darfurian Genocides. The intention is to educate our students about the impact these genocides have had on civilization.
In 2016, when the bill passed in the Rhode Island General Assembly, only seven states had passed such legislation. Rhode Island was the only state in New England to have done so. Today, eleven states have now passed similar legislation, and eight other states are considering it as well.
A Holocaust/Genocide Education Committee, chaired by Dr. Ezra Stieglitz, was formed immediately upon passage of the bill to plan and oversee appropriate and comprehensive curriculum for grades 7 – 12 throughout the state. The Rhode Island Department of Education has agreed to include information about instruction on the Holocaust and Genocide on its website.