Turkish Activist Admits Major Blow When Texas Recognized Armenian Genocide

Armenian-Americans knew they had scored a major victory for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide when Texas became the 46th state to recognize it. What Armenian-Americans did not realize is that the recognition by Texas had a devastating impact on the Turkish community’s lobbying efforts in the state.

The Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 191, titled ‘Recognizing the Armenian Genocide,’ on May 19.

Ferruh Demirmen, Ph.D., revealed in an article in Turkishnews.com the degree of despair he and his fellow Turks suffered in Texas when the State House recognized the Armenian Genocide on May 19, 2017. It is not very often that we come across a Turkish lobbyist who acknowledges total defeat at the hands of the Armenian community.

Demirmen starts by blaming his fellow Turks for “years of Turkish apathy and passivity, combined with Armenian aggressiveness and Western prejudice” for the passage of the resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. He also credits the activism by the Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region (ANCA-WR), for arranging “tours involving Armenian activists at town-hall meetings,” visiting “State elected officials individually,” and establishing ANCA-WR chapters in “Dallas, Austin, and Houston.”

The Turkish activist also credits the success of the genocide resolution to the support of “State Representative Scott Sanford, who is also the Executive Pastor of a Baptist church in Texas.” Having done an incredible amount of research for his article, Demirmen recalls: “At a gala organized by ANCA-Dallas in April 2016, Representative Sanford was awarded ‘Advocate for Justice Award’ for his ‘strong dedication to raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide.’” At the gala, a letter from Republican Senator Ted Cruz was read recognizing the Armenian Genocide, according to Demirmen.

On Jan. 26, Representative Sanford introduced Texas House Resolution HR-191 to recognize the Armenian Genocide. The Resolution was first presented to the Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee (TIAC), which called for a public hearing at the State Capitol in Austin on April 24. Demirmen regrets that the Texas legislature chose “April 24 for the public hearing, a date considered symbolic for Armenian allegations, [which] was the first sign that TIAC was pro-Armenian in its outlook.”

Demirmen is unhappy that “the hearing was closely coordinated with ANCA-WR and Rep. Sanford, and while the Armenian side had long known about the hearing, the Turkish side knew of the meeting less than a week in advance.” As a result, only six Turks attended the hearing (five from Houston and one from Dallas), while “a large crowd from the Armenian side was present. Also present [at TIAC] as an ‘observer’ was Rep. Sanford.”

Demirmen expresses his regret that only four Turks, including himself, testified in committee, whereas 21 Armenians had testified. “The Armenian side ended up having five times more chances to present its case than the Turkish side. Thus the Armenian side dominated not only in terms of ‘presence’ in the hearing, but also in the testimonies given,” Demirmen admitted. “Among those who testified for the Armenian side were representatives from the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, and Houston’s Holocaust Museum,” Demirmen reported. In addition, “hundreds of letters were emailed to state legislators. Many more phone calls were made by the Armenian community.”

Among the objections raised by Turks who testified against the Resolution, were the “impropriety of Texas legislators to intervene in matters affecting U.S. foreign policy, the damage the bill could do to trade relations between Texas and Turkey, the divisive aspect of the resolution, and not the least, the fact that the resolution is defamatory toward Texas residents of Turkish heritage,” Demirmen complained.

None of these objections made an impact on the TIAC members who approved the Resolution unanimously on April 24. The Texas House took up the Resolution on May 19, approving it with 137 yes votes (eight members were absent and five abstained).

In utter despair, Demirmen describes the outcome as “a feat masterminded by ANCA-WR and endorsed by the Texas House of Representatives. While the resolution has no legal force, for all practical purposes, and for the public at large, it was a declaration finding Ottoman Turks guilty of a heinous crime.”

Demirmen acknowledges that “the Turkish response, at least at the grassroots level, to HR-191, was feeble…. Turks are no match to Armenians on activism on the ‘genocide’ issue…. The Turkish side has only itself to blame for its lethargy and passivity.”

The Turkish activist concludes his article by blaming the ATA-Houston (American Turkish Association) for not bothering to oppose HR-191. He calls the group, “the happy-hour-conscious association, founded in 1979, was not interested in the Armenian issue.”

Even though Demirmen blames Texas Turks for their inactivity, there is actually only one reason why the Resolution was adopted: Because it tells the truth. The State of Texas finally acknowledged the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide.

Harut Sassounian

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 Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. This brings up an interesting point. One wonders why the US Christian community has not rallied for Armenia and Armenian issues as it did 100 years ago during during the Genocide (e.g. as chronicled by Peter Balakian). Certainly today’s activist Christian community is different than 100 years ago– it is southern and more fundamentalist. But the power of today’s southern churches can not be overstated. See, for example, Christians United for Israel, which is arguably driven as much by belief in Biblical prophecy as anything else.

    But how can we Armenians better engage today’s southern fundamentalist churches and organizations? After all, Armenia has strong roots in the Old and New Testament, and even just the story of Noah should be sufficient to convince these fundamentalist churches that they should care about Armenia and Armenian Christians (at least more than Islamicists or others). This community would be a formidable and natural ally. How do we increase outreach and awareness? Texas is an impressive step.

    • You mean we should pander to lunatics who believe that Jesus Christ will return once Israel takes over all the land currently inhabited by Palestinians? These people are nutcases.

      Aside from the moral costs of allying with these people, it would be detrimental to Armenia’s long-term security to do so. First, these “Christians'” unconditional support for Israel means they will always take the side of Azerbaijan (Israel’s close ally) over Armenia in the Artsakh conflict. Second, they are ruthlessly anti-Muslim, and getting closer to them would alienate what will probably emerge as the most important force in the Armenian cause in the next few decades: the millions of “hidden Armenians” in Turkey who are reclaiming their Armenian heritage but choosing to maintain their adopted Islamic faith. These “hidden Armenians” are living proof of the Armenian genocide and if anybody will make demands or drive changes within Turkish society, it will be them.

      In the short-term these fundamentalists may seem like low-hanging fruit, but in the long-term cozying up to them is a TERRIBLE idea.

    • American Christians are guided by conservatism and unfortunately listen and guided by Fox News. Fox in reality is wealthy corporate propaganda driven who’s interests are corporate military industry and oil. Not very friendly to Armenian interests so they are never exposed to truth of the Armenian situation..

    • Not to mention US fundamentalist Christians support Israel above all else (out of a belief that Jesus Christ will return once Israel takes over all of the land currently inhabited by Palestinians), and Israel is Azerbaijan’s main ally.

  2. Poor genocidal Turks. Everyone should feel sorry and cater to their defamation and reputation. Someone should tell them that defending a lie, especially about mass murder and theft is 10x harder then defending the truth. Its also clear the Turks have hid behind the corrupt US State department for years as they use the usually nonsense verbiage of ‘goes against US foreign policy”.. Exposing the morally bankrupt and US State department should be our next big target.

  3. Did Mr. Demirmen listen to the 21 Armenians that were testifying, or is he just a blind fanatic with no conscious? Oh that is right, you have no conscious when lobbying for murderers.

  4. Thank you TEXAS! Indeed it is impossible to defend the indefensible as truth speaks louder than Turkish lies.

  5. The lone state of Texas is so right in voting for the right resolution of the Armenian genocide millions applaud the state of Texas & it’s standing .bravo the state of power & justice .God bless you.thank you Texas

  6. Thank you Texas. Finally justice for the memory of 1.5 million Armenians who were killed by Young Turks and realty is continuing to be rejected by Turkish government. Armenians will live forever.Tkank you

  7. The man Harut describes is an elderly retired oil engineer with oil links to Texas. He has written for decades about the Genocide in ways acceptable to Turkish Nazis such as Kirkikovali, Bain, Server et al.

    His description of why the Turks failed is also out of an old playbook they use. The standard refrain is that Armenians are hyper-aggressive Christians who manipulate sleepy Christian odars while industrious Turks keep their nose to the grindstone. However, Demirmen serves up a tacit admission that groups like ATAA are of no interest to the average member of the Turkish Diaspora here.

    The most risible part of his piece is the claim that the Turkish schools do not discuss “the events of 1915” known to the rest of the world as the Genocide. In truth, Turkish schools since the 1970’s have been teaching the denialist point of view with an unhealthy dose of genicidal hatred thrown in. See e.g. The showing of “the blonde bride” in their schools.

    Let’s hope 50 states affirm the truth while Demirmen lives a life dedicated to hate and lies.

  8. Texas has recognized. And? Did Erzurum, Bitlis and Van become Armenia? Did Armenians return there? Did 1.5 million resurrect?
    You don’t understand that these resolution as a piece of paper. They don’t change anything on the ground. You lost on the ground but win in the parliaments. Fine with the Turks and fine with the Armenians. Everyone is happy :)

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