WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan group of 107 US House members has called on President Biden to “clearly and directly recognize the Armenian Genocide” in his upcoming April 24 statement, ending Turkey’s foreign gag-rule against honest US remembrance of this crime, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We thank Congressman Schiff, his colleagues in the leadership of the Armenian Caucus and all those who co-signed this bipartisan call upon President Biden to end the longest lasting foreign gag-rule in American history,” said ANCA executive director Aram Hamparian. “By joining with the US Senate and House in condemning and commemorating the Armenian Genocide, the White House can, this week, mark the end of a shameful era of American complicity in Ankara’s denials – dealing a major setback to Turkey’s century-long obstruction of justice for this crime.”
“Looking ahead, US recognition must inspire and inform US policy challenging Turkey’s longstanding denials and confronting its ongoing anti-Armenian aggression,” added Hamparian.
Members of Congress co-signed a letter to President Biden spearheaded by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the Congressional Armenian Caucus leadership. The letter cites President Biden’s decades of efforts to reset U.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide. “We know that this is an issue you are well acquainted with from your time in the Senate and as Vice President, including shepherding S.J.Res. 212 (designating April 24, 1990, as a National Day of Remembrance of the 75th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide) through the Judiciary Committee in 1989. We also appreciate that as Vice President you attended the centenary anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 2015 at the National Cathedral. It was during the centennial that His Holiness Pope Francis at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica said this about the Armenian Genocide: “concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”
Upon sending the letter, Rep. Schiff explained, “During his candidacy, President Biden made a promise that he would officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, a promise in line with his decades of leadership on human rights issues. That’s why I joined with so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to urge him to keep that promise, and in doing so, right decades of wrongs. The word ‘genocide’ is significant because genocide is not a problem of the past – it is a problem of today. And by speaking the truth about this horrific period of history, refusing to be silent, and calling it a genocide, we can ensure that the United States is never again complicit.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Schiff took to the House floor to share a powerful open letter to President Biden.
Armenian Caucus Co-Chair David Valadao noted, “Formal recognition of the Armenian genocide is long overdue in the United States where so many Armenian-Americans continue to feel the pain of this tragedy,” said Congressman Valadao. “I urge President Biden to formally honor those affected by this atrocity and offer the Armenian-American community this validation they deserve.”
Joining Rep. Schiff and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and David Valadao in cosigning the Congressional letter to President Biden are Representatives: Colin Allred (D-TX), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Joaquín Castro (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Jim Costa (D-CA), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Jason Crow (D-CO), Danny Davis (D-IL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Josh Harder (D-CA), Jim Himes (D-CT), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), David Joyce (R-OH), Richie Himes (D-CT), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Douglas Lamborn (R-CO), James Langevin (D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Mike Levin (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James McGovern (D-MA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Edwin Perlmutter (D-CO), Scott Peters (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), “Mary Gay, Scanlon (D-PA)”, Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Michelle Steel (R-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Susan Wild (D-PA).
The Congressional letter on the Armenian Genocide follows a similar bipartisan initiative earlier this month spearheaded by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and cosigned by 38 Senators calling on President Biden to follow the lead of Congress in fully and formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
The Senate letter cites President Biden’s April 2020 Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day statement, in which he pledged “to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide,” noting that, since “Congress has already made its position clear. It is time for the executive branch to do so as well.” The letter closes with a powerful call for truth: “Administrations of both parties have been silent on the truth of the Armenian Genocide. We urge you to break this pattern of complicity by officially recognizing that the Armenian Genocide was genocide.”
ANCA supporters send over one million messages to White House and Congress on Armenian Genocide
Calls on the Biden administration to end Turkey’s gag rule on proper US commemoration and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide were complemented by a broad-based ANCA grassroots campaign, through which Armenian Americans and coalition partners from all 50 states sent over 1,000,000 messages to the White House and Congress over the past several months.
ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian, in a video message issued this week, expressed his thanks to community and coalition partners for reaching the million message milestone in the ANCA’s strategic campaign to secure a long-awaited reset in US Armenian Genocide policy by the Biden administration. “On behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your faith, thank you for your dedication. Working together, we will move mountains. Working together, we are on the #MarchToJustice.”
Presidential Candidate Biden’s Pledge to Support Armenian Genocide Recognition
President Biden referenced the Armenian Genocide multiple times during his presidential candidacy. In his April 24, 2020, statement, he noted, “during my years in the Senate, I was proud to lead efforts to recognize the genocide against the Armenian people. Last year, I was pleased to endorse bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate that officially recognized and established an ongoing US commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. If elected, I pledge to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide…”
On September, 16, 2019, Presidential candidate Joe Biden, in a letter to the ANCA, stated that, “The United States must reaffirm, once and for all, our record on the Armenian Genocide. We must never forget or remain silent about this horrific and systematic campaign of extermination that resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children and the mass deportation of two million Armenians from their homes. If we do not fully acknowledge, commemorate, and teach our children about genocide, the words ‘never again’ lose their meaning. The facts must be as clear and as powerful for future generations as for those whose memories are seared by tragedy. Failing to remember or acknowledge the fact of a genocide only paves the way for future mass atrocities.”
During his confirmation process, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, responding to questions by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) regarding the Biden Administration’s policy on the Armenian Genocide, answered “Our administration will be committed to prioritizing human rights and ensuring such a tragedy is not repeated. The Administration will determine the wording for the White House statement to mark Remembrance Day once in office and will consult with Congress on this important issue.”
US Record on Armenian Genocide Affirmation
US recognition of the Armenian Genocide – alongside growing global condemnation of this crime – isolates Turkey and undermines its denials, increasing pressure upon Ankara to end its campaign of lies, cease its obstruction of justice, and open the door to a truthful, just, and comprehensive resolution of present-day Turkey’s legal, moral, political and territorial responsibilities for this still unpunished crime against all humanity.
The U.S. first recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1951 through a filing which was included in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Report titled: “Reservations to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” The specific reference to the Armenian Genocide appears on page 25 of the ICJ Report: “The Genocide Convention resulted from the inhuman and barbarous practices which prevailed in certain countries prior to and during World War II, when entire religious, racial and national minority groups were threatened with and subjected to deliberate extermination. The practice of genocide has occurred throughout human history. The Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacres of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide.”
President Ronald Reagan reaffirmed the Armenian Genocide in 1981. The U.S. House of Representatives adopted legislation on the Armenian Genocide in 1975, 1984 and 1996. In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate overwhelmingly adopted Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.220 / S.Res.150).
Since 1965, 49 US states have recognized the Armenian Genocide through resolution or proclamation, with only Mississippi yet to accurately commemorate and condemn this crime.
During the Armenian Genocide, the U.S. provided unprecedented humanitarian assistance to save victims of that crime. Over a period of 15 years from 1915 to 1930, the congressionally mandated Near East Relief (NER) mobilized the entire American nation, and indeed the world, into a well-organized and well-funded relief effort which successfully saved over 1,000,000 refugees and 132,000 orphans of the Armenian Nation and other Christian minorities. Despite its initial fundraising goal of $100,000 which was later raised to $30 million, the NER ultimately raised $117 million, the equivalent of $2.7 billion in today’s dollars. Through the efforts of over 1000 volunteers and the support of the American people, NER built over 400 orphanages, food and clothing distribution centers, medical clinics and hospitals, and vocational training schools throughout the Near East to house and care for the
Text of Letter Led by Rep. Adam Schiff and Congressional Armenian Caucus Leadership Urging President Biden to Officially Recognize the Armenian Genocide
Dear President Biden:
Later this month, on April 24, the world will mark the 106th anniversary of the first days of the Armenian Genocide, the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, and the displacement of millions more. Yet for decades, while leaders around the world recognize the first genocide of the 20th Century, the President of the United States has remained silent. We join with the proud Armenian American community and all of those who support truth and justice in asking that you clearly and directly recognize the Armenian Genocide in your April 24 statement.
We know that this is an issue you are well acquainted with from your time in the Senate and as Vice President, including shepherding S.J.Res. 212 (designating April 24, 1990, as a National Day of Remembrance of the 75th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide) through the Judiciary Committee in 1989. We also appreciate that as Vice President you attended the centenary anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 2015 at the National Cathedral. It was during the centennial that His Holiness Pope Francis at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica said this about the Armenian Genocide: “concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”
The historic fact of what occurred a century ago is not in serious dispute. American diplomats of the period documented the mass slaughter of the Armenians, though they had no word for what they were witnessing. It was only decades later that Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide”, and did so specifically with the attempted extermination of the Armenian people in mind.
In accurately describing the Genocide this year, you will be joining both the House and Senate which overwhelmingly passed resolutions doing so in 2019. Additionally, the Library of Congress has already taken the important step of cataloging books on the subject under historically accurate Armenian Genocide subject heading.
Mr. President, as you said last year in your April 24 statement, “Silence is complicity.” The shameful silence of the United States Government on the historic fact of the Armenian Genocide has gone on for too long, and it must end. We urge you to follow through on your commitments and speak the truth.