Members of Congress press for an end to Armenian Genocide denial at annual Capitol Hill observance

Members of Congress from both parties and across the United States united in calling for U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide as a fundamental element of U.S. genocide prevention policy, during the annual Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide Observance, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Over twenty Senators and Representatives, including the Chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke passionately at the event hosted by the Congressional Armenian Caucus in cooperation with Armenian American groups, the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Office in the U.S. In addition to Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), others offering remarks and participating in the remembrance were: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Joe Crowley (D-NY), the Vice-Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), John Tierney (D-MA), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA). Legislators, including Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Representative Linda Sanchez, extended support for the program and widely publicized the event using social media.  More than a dozen other legislators, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued public statements commemorating the Armenian Genocide.

Sen. Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “In my view, we must not make it the policy of the United States to turn our back on man’s inhumanity to man, we cannot turn our backs on the victim; not in Armenia in 1915, not a genocide anywhere that it occurs. Any nuanced approach serves only to empower those around the world who would use genocide as a weapon of war. So let’s be perfectly clear, there is no other word for it, there is no euphemism, there is no avoiding it, there are no excuses. As part of this commemoration we must fully commit ourselves to acknowledging the fundamental truth that what happened from 1915-1923 was by definition a blatant act of genocide – an acknowledgement that must come from Turkey, and it must come from our own government.”

Watch Sen. Menendez’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/RqtBCDD7BLQ

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chair of the Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee: “Properly accounting for crimes against humanity is a weapon in preventing future crimes against humanity and it is important for that reason. Words actually matter and the historical record actually matters.”

Watch Sen. Whitehouse’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/-EJt6hzZF18

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:  “The events that we remember today, that commenced 98 years ago is not only still today – shocking – the genocide, or as Hitler said the annihilation. [. . .] An attempt to annihilate an entire race, in which the American Ambassador Henry Morgenthau was present at the time – and observer – and said that these deportations were an attempt to annihilate a race and that those who gave the orders understood it. And that far from trying to conceal it, they shared with him that indeed would be the outcome.”

Watch Rep. Ed Royce’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/hDU8sddz0wY

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Co-Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus:  “Many of you know in the past our emcee has been Ardy Kassakhian who is the City Clerk in Glendale. He is a very good friend of mine. And, I sat down with Ardy about a year ago and I said to Ardy, ‘You know the Caucus works on so many issues related to Armenia and we have had a lot of success with many of them because of the help of the community. But we have not had it with the Armenian Genocide and we are determined that we are going to pass this resolution. We are going make this happen, but why is it that this is the most important thing, the highest priority. Why is it the highest priority?’ And he said to me ‘because of the people who suffered and died and their memory. We cannot rest until this country, the United States, recognizes the Armenian Genocide.” And, so I want you to understand – speaking on behalf of all of my colleagues – as much as we work on all of the other issues I mentioned tonight, we understand that this is the priority and we understand why. And we are never going to let go.”

Watch Rep. Frank Pallone’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/nrmu1_IJczI

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), Co-Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus:  “We pride ourselves to be the home of the survivors, the tough standers, the battle hardened scrapers, the refugees, whose story in this country began as an ember of desperate hope and has grown into a blazing legacy of prosperity and pride. If there is any group that has earned that right to wear that badge of courage, those stripes of distinction, it is without question, the Armenian people. In 1915, an oppressive imperial regime, blinded by hatred, sought to wipe an entire people from the face of the earth. And through the horrifying instruments of torture, rape, death camps, deportation marches, over a million and a half innocent men women and children were put to death in furtherance of this horrific goal. In spite of these efforts, the Armenian Diaspora is one of the most successful, well-educated, respected and influential ethnic communities in the entire world.”

Watch Rep. Michael Grimm’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/7P3XkOxkDqQ

Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “I know a lot of things about Armenians, but the one thing I really know is that the Armenian Genocide did exist and that Turkey should be ashamed at itself for not recognizing it. And, by the way, I told that to the Turkish Foreign Minister to his face. Some people say, ‘Well you have to be careful because Turkey is a member of NATO and therefore there are all types of complications with a NATO ally of the United States.’ And I say just the opposite. Because they are a member of NATO, they need to be more responsible. Because they are a member of NATO they ought to own up to what happened. Because they are a member of NATO we would expect decency from them. Instead we get anything but. And that will not stand.”

Watch Rep. Elliot Engel’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/KgBrpMwglyY

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA):  “This country has a proud history of speaking plainly about some of the darkest chapters of history. It is part of who we are as Americans. We do no equivocate when it comes to mass atrocity or genocide. We do not equivocate about those things because we hold ourselves to a high moral ideal. We cannot speak about Darfur. We cannot speak about a number of other human rights abuses around the world if we pick and choose which genocides to recognize. And so it is with great disappointment that when it comes to this genocide, when it comes to the genocide that Rafael Lemkin who coined the term genocide had in mind in crafting that term, that our Congress and our Administration has not lived up to its highest moral ideal. But, we are determined, on a very bipartisan basis as you can see here today, to correct that flaw. And, we will fight until we succeed.”

Watch Rep. Adam Schiff’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/c6JIZX4xO5w

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD): “In two years we will remember and commemorate [the 100th Anniversary] of this horrific tragedy and if we cannot get this done [Congressional reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide] at that time, then shame on us. We owe it to this incredible community.”

Watch Rep. John Sarbanes’ complete remarks: http://youtu.be/9gibgh08Cjg

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Ranking Democrat on the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “America should never be associated with genocide denial. It undermines our standards and our position in the world. And, finally, to those who say ‘Well, Turkey has this strategic territory and might be an ally’ what kind of ally insists on genocide denial? Where would our relations be with Berlin if they asked us to tear down the Holocaust museum here in Washington, D.C.? Our relationship with Germany is based on truth. That is a strong alliance. You cannot have that kind of alliance if it depends on genocide denial.”

Watch Rep. Brad Sherman’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/85u8y7aQ2_U

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee: “When I first arrived the first thing I did was to sign on – was the first act as a Member of Congress was to sign on – to the [Armenian Genocide] resolution that Congressman Tony Coelho had at that time. And you all have been through a lot. And there are people who used to come because they were able to come and they have either gone to heaven or cannot come to be with us today. But we have been through a lot of hardships. And, we are going to endure and we are going to win this one. Because that is the mark of the tenacity and the decency and the wisdom and the effectiveness of our people.”

Watch Rep. Anna Eshoo’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/lphOXzLBKqQ

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Ranking Democrat on the Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:  “Many Armenian Americans at the time tried to hide their past and their connection to Armenia. I am fortunate that my mother was unwilling to hide her Armenian heritage. I am fortunate, like you, that I was raised in enlightenment. I was raised with a sense of pride in my heritage. I was raised with a sense of courage to challenge the status quo. I think for all of us, our ability to survive, our ability to persevere has everything to do with the DNA that was given to us by our parents and our grandparents. And, we are not unaccustomed to suffering. We are not unaccustomed to prevail. We are not unaccustomed to go the extra mile. Because, in the end we know that freedom will win out, that this country will become a better place because we are speaking out about the Armenian Genocide.”

Watch Rep. Jackie Speier’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/41we4Uif_Yc

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI):  “It is not only important to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide because it is an undeniable fact in the history of the world, but also because learning more about this horrific tragedy it really underscores the importance of committing ourselves to eliminating intolerance and bigotry wherever it occurs in the world. I have enormous respect for the Armenian people because I have seen the strength and resilience and the perseverance of this great community.”

Watch Rep. David Cicilline’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/8tXIc6nWSB8

Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Ranking Democrat of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee:  “It is my honor to be here. I thank you all for the work you do and I share a commitment to make sure that by the 100th anniversary we have formally recognized the Armenian Genocide.”

Watch Rep. Nikki Tsongas’ complete remarks: http://youtu.be/P3NVPSGqXMQ

Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA): “The United States Congress must, must go on record by recognizing the first genocide that took place in the 20th Century. It is the right thing to do… Because, when we go on record we lay down a line for the rest of the world as the oldest democracy throughout the world that this injustice, this injustice, will not go unrecognized.”

Watch Rep. Jim Costa’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/FT4iuTpktSo

Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Ranking Member of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: “Peter Torigian who was the mayor of Peabody which is in my district, not too very long ago used to have a commemoration every year as will be held this year. He has passed away now but it continues on. So the education has to continue on just as Peter began in the city of Peabody and people, once they understand what happened, will carry it on and will make sure that it will be remembered and move forward on that basis.”

Watch Rep. John Tierney’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/yiHT5jugzns

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Chairman of the Capital Markets and Government Subcommittee of the U.S House Financial Services Committee: “Scripture says before you make comment about the speck in someone else’s eye, remove the plank from your eye. Well, we certainly have a plank in our eye from the Administration and from the State Department, who is just refusing to do what is right in this area. So, we must first address and remove that plank in our eye and make the admission in this country and then we can call even more strongly on other countries, specifically Turkey.”

Watch Rep. Scott Garrett’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/IfvUJO88uC8

Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Health and Technology Subcommittee of the House Small Business Committee: “I am inspired, constantly, by the strength of the Armenian people; so many of whose lives have been touched by tragedy but who have persevered and have resolved to never let history be forgotten. Let us recommit to delivering the Armenian community with long overdue recognition they deserve.”

Watch Rep. Janice Hahn’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/7NR7wTBsO9I

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), Ranking Member of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee:  “We will continue the fight because as long as we do not recognize, officially, this genocide and force others to do so, it empowers the other side to continue this kind of atrocity. And, we have seen that even recently in Turkey with the Prime Minister ordering the tearing down the memorial to Turkish-Armenian friendship.”

Watch Rep. Dina Titus’ complete remarks: http://youtu.be/H77sEgj7FcY

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Ethics Committee:  “Out of this retched episode of history, we as human beings have made a conscious and determined effort to move beyond hatred and to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future. We are morally obligated to learn from the lapses of the human soul that caused the Armenian Genocide. And, we are morally obligated to do all that we can to protect oppressed, vulnerable, and subjugated peoples.”

Watch Rep. Linda Sanchez’ complete remarks: http://youtu.be/7jQdoNpqWyk

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA):  “The world is a horrible place, as much for the people who do horrible things, but equally for the people who do nothing about it; for the people who watch atrocities and do not do anything about it. I can honestly say that this country is a great, great country, but I am perplexed, confused, and disappointed that our country – at the highest levels – does not recognize the truth and is unwilling to say that the Armenian Genocide is a truth and that it happened and that it should never happen again.”

Watch Rep. Tony Cardenas’ complete remarks: http://youtu.be/iv4fuPtD2hs

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ):  “With your help we will pass the [Armenian Genocide resolution] this Congress. And, we will establish the truth, we will learn the truth, we will speak the truth. And, as it says in the scripture of John, ‘We will know the truth and the truth will make you free’ and I do not mean just you. I mean humankind. It is a liberating knowledge to understand the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights to which humanity can rise. That is the point of this resolution.”

Watch Rep. Rush Holt’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/Z0_lzqw3_Zo

Amb. Tatoul Markarian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the U.S.: “As we honor the memory of the one and a half million victims, we mark yet another year of hard work by the Armenian American organizations and our Congressional friends. We register another year of Turkish denialism. We mark yet another year of absence of international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide. Dear friends, throughout the year Turkey continued refusing diplomatic relations and open borders with Armenia; kept fervently denying the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish side did everything to convince us that true normalization was not its genuine goal when engaging in talks with Armenia; that it has no intention to look for ways to come to terms with its history. It demonstrated clearly once again – and this time to the entire world – it does not have the courage and political will to face its history, that it is the hostage and servant of its past. And, it cannot deny the denialism and because of that it is not able to move forward and embrace the present and the future.”

Watch Amb. Tatoul Markarian’s complete remarks: http://youtu.be/5XI_e5mj63c

Mr. Robert Avetisyan, Representative of the NagornoKarabakhRepublic to the U.S.: “98 years have passed since the tragic date. More nations recognize and condemn the Genocide every year. And, we are grateful to all those countries and peoples who join the Armenian nation in persuading Turkey to reconcile this tragedy. More states call on Turkey to respect its past and acknowledge the horrible pages of that. And, what is also inspiring is the growing number of those condemning the Genocide within Turkey itself. And yesterday’s commemoration in Diyarbekir – or as Armenians have been calling it for centuries, Dikranakert – has become the most recent example of that. Of course, we hope that the movement in that trend will continue growing and eventually lead to abandoning denialism. For that to happen, in order to help those brave people to resist a powerful state of opposition we must continue educating the world about our history and share all the lesson gained by paying such an enormous price.”

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