US House holding debate on Armenian Genocide Resolution

The US House of Representatives voted today to consider the resolution (H. Res. 296) affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide. The House proceeds with an hour-long debate on H. Res. 296. 

Steny H. Hoyer: There can be no denial of the Armenian genocide

This resolution recognizes the horrific and systematic efforts to commit genocide against the Armenian people a century ago. There can be no denial of the Armenian genocide, which is evidenced by historical documentation and the emotional scars still borne by the descendants of its survivors. It was a campaign of ethnic cleansing, committed by the Ottoman Empire during and after the first World War, and it led to the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians, alongside other targeted groups.”

As the House joins in condemnation of that genocide and memorializes its victims, let us also keep our attention focused on populations today that are being subjected to ethnic cleansing and forced relocation. From the Rohingya to the Uighurs to the people in Darfur to the Kurdish population being forced from their homes in Syria as we speak, we must declare loudly and clearly: never again. Never again.

Sadly, never is now. In particular, our Kurdish allies who fought so courageously to help us defeat ISIS are being forced to leave their homes by Turkey’s campaign to seize control of… Northern Syria. Let today’s action in this House be a reminder, Mr. Speaker, to President Erdogan and his government that the United States is watching. The American people will not turn our eyes away. Neither will we turn our eyes away from the millions of others in Syria who have been displaced and the hundreds of thousands who have been killed; who have been bombed, gassed, and brutalized by the Assad regime and its enablers.”

We need to let the American people’s representatives give [the] clear message to [our] Armenian brothers and sisters, to our Kurdish brothers and sisters: we see you; we will not abandon you. Never again.

Frank Pallone: The United States must never accept crimes against humanity

Official recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a powerful reminder that we will not turn away when we know full well that crimes against humanity have been perpetrated. We stand here today to pay tribute to the victims of this horrific chapter of history, to the perseverance of those who survived, and to the Americans of Armenian descent who continue to strengthen our country.

It’s our duty to honor that history with an honest, factual statement recognizing the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians as the 20th century’s first genocide.

This resolution cannot undo the horrors the victims endured or the pain that their descendants carry with them, but we have an obligation to speak candidly about the past that is directly tied to our moral responsibilities of the present.

The United States must never accept crimes against humanity and we must do everything in our power to prevent and stop atrocities unfolding in real-time. What is currently taking place in Syria, the killing of the Kurds at the hands of the Turkish president Erdogan is unacceptable. And it is far past time for the Turkish government to accept its responsibility for systematic ex-termination of Armenians in the past century and to commit to protect the dignity of every human life in this century.

I encourage my colleagues to join in supporting this long overdue recognition of the Armenian genocide. Your vote is not only for the Armenians but to prevent genocide in the future. Let us note that the Ottoman Turks did not succeed. The Armenians are still here, in the United States, in the Republic of Armenia, and the American people and their representatives will continue to be with you.

Jim Costa: The horrors of the Armenian genocide can never be undone

I’m proud to support House resolution 296, which would establish the permanent United States recognition and the ongoing remembrance of the Armenian genocide.

In 1915, the Ottoman Empire, as we all know, embarked on a systematic deportation and murder of one and a half million Armenians. These innocent men and women and children became the victims of the first genocide as we know in the 20th century.

Many of these survivors settled in my district in the San Joaquin Valley where they lived and their children have enjoyed the blessings of liberty and lived the american dream. This diverse Valley I have the honor of represent we refer to as the land of William Saroyan, a noted Armenian author. Fresno State University is the only university in the US that has a memorial to the Armenian genocide, a moving memorial to their ancestors.

Yet this brutal atrocity has not received official recognition it deserves. So today it is proper and fitting that we do so. This is a moral issue. I call upon my colleagues to join me in — and more than 110 co-sponsors in supporting this long overdue passage by the United States House of Representatives.

The horrors of the Armenian genocide can never, ever, ever be undone, yet by acknowledging the suffering of these veterans through the official recognition of the official recognition of the Armenian genocide we can ensure that at least future generations will never forget.

Jim McGovern: Non-recognition paves the way for similar atrocities

To not appropriately acknowledge the genocide only paves the way for future dictators and authoritarians to commit similar atrocities believing that somehow the United States, the most powerful country in the world, will look the other way.

David Cicilline: To prevent future mass atrocities it’s vital we not ignore those that have occurred

I rise in support of H.Res. 296, a resolution introduced by my friend, mMr. Schiff, to recognize the horror of the genocide against the Armenian people between 1913 and 1925, killing 1,5 million martyrs.

There’s no question that the Ottoman Empire carried out a systemic campaign of persecution, forced removal, starvation and murder against Armenians along with other christian minorities living under ottoman rule. This was documented in real-time by American diplomats and has been acknowledged in various forms by past generations.

In order to prevent future mass atrocities it’s vital we not ignore those that have occurred. For too long we have been allowed ourselves to be lobbied to turn the other way and not recognize the Armenian genocide. That ends today. I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.

Carolyn B. Maloney: The Armenian Genocide must be acknowledged

1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the Ottoman Empire in the first genocide of the 20th century. With today’s vote, we take a long overdue step to stop Turkey from hiding from the truth. The Armenian Genocide must be acknowledged.

Gus Bilirakis: We must acknowledge the atrocities of the past so we might prevent them in the future

It has been more than 100 years since the atrocities committed against innocent Armenians and other ethnic and religious minorities at the hands of the ottoman empire. The Ottoman Empire genocidal campaign from 1915 to 1923 killed 1.5 million Armenians, men and women and children as well as Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs through executions and death marches.

We are entering into the record the Armenian genocide and the historical fact. Today we end a century of international silence that will not be another period of indifference or international ignorance to the lives lost through system attic murder.

President Ronald Reagan explicitly referred to the Ottoman Empire’s actions as the genocide of the Armenians in a 1981 Holocaust remembrance speech and 30 nations have recognized the genocide including France, Germany and Russia.

Today, the United States is going to acknowledge it as well. I found pope Francis’ words and explicit use of the term genocide to be another wakeup call for the world. We must acknowledge the atrocities of the past so we might prevent them in the future.

Our darkest moments as a human race have come during times from those who knew better stood silently making excuses and allowing injustice and persecution to reign. Turkey’s current actions against our Kurdish allies is extremely concerning and we cannot stand by and let egregious human rights violations happen. Turkey’s offensive in Syria is unacceptable behavior from a u.s. ally.

I’m thankful we are timely recognizing these atrocities and these acts against the Armenian people. Like the earliest Christians, the Armenians proved themselves as survivors of persecution but also masters of their destinies. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

Anna Eshoo: Today we can end over 100 years of silence

This is a historic day in the House of Representatives and one I have been waiting for for 27 years. Between 1915 to 1923, one and a half million Armenians were killed and this is a historical fact that people are not aware of, hundreds of thousands of Assyrians, Greeks, Maronites were slaughtered by the Ottoman Empire. This is deeply personal to me.

I’m the only one Armenian and one of three of Armenian heritage in the Senate and House. Some of you know that I had members of my own family that were among those that perished and my parents fled with theirs to america, as my father said, the best idea that was ever born was America.

One all of those that were persecuted have in common were they were Christians and that’s why they were hunted down and slaughtered. This resolution not only honors my ancestors, but all those who perished in the first genocide of the 20th century.

The United States has been missing in action on the honor roll of over two dozen countries, 14 of which are allies and 49 states and our country that have formally recognized the Armenian genocide and today we can end over 100 years of silence by passing this resolution and there is a historic parallel as we are considering this resolution that turkey is pursuing the ethnic cleansing of Kurds in Syria as we meet today.

As Pope Francis declared when he visited the Armenian genocide memorial in 2016, memories should never be what occurred down or forgotten. Memory is the source of peace and the future. So today, we remember and we say to all those who perished, we remember, we love you and we set an example for the young people of our country that the moral authority of the united states is well and alive as we pass this resolution.

Adam Schiff: To deny genocide is double killing

I rise in strong support of H.Res. 296, which I introduced along with representative Bilirakis to recognize and commemorate the Armenian genocide. This is a vote I have fought for 19 years to cast. My wonderful colleagues, Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, have fought far longer than I have.

It is one that tens of thousands of my constituents, my Armenian American constituents have waited decades to see. It is a moment that so many have worked and struggled and prayed for, a moment when the house of representatives refused to be enlisted in the cause of genocide denial. This April would have marked the 104th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians and displacement of millions more by the ottoman empire from 1915 to 1923.

Many other religious and ethnic minorities in the ottoman empire met similar fates, among them the Greeks, Assyrians, and others. More than a century later, it is our solemn responsibility to remember those who were lost, to seek justice and restitution, and to educate Americans and those around the world about the crime of genocide.

The facts of the genocide are horrific and undisputed by historians. They were recorded by american diplomats serving in the ottoman empire at the time who bore witness in official cables to the annihilation of the Armenian population in the ottoman empire, a crime that at the time had no name. Though it lacked a name, there was no doubt in the observers at the time they were witnessing a crime on a massive and industrial scale.

The US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire would recall later I am confident the whole history of the human race contains no such horrific horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the suffering of the Armenian race in 1915.

It was only decades later that a holocaust survivor coined the term genocide to describe the atrocities that had been visited upon the Jews as well as the Armenians. I have sat with survivors of the genocide, men and women, their numbers dwindling year after year and heard them recall the destruction of their lives and the loss of all they had known.

As children they were forced from their homes and saw their families beaten, raped, and murdered. They fled across continents and oceans to build lives in this nation, in Armenia, and around the world. For them and for their descendants the word genocide is sacred because it means the world has not and will not forget.

To deny genocide, on the other hand, is profane. It is in the words of Elie Wiezel a double killing. It is always the right time to recognize genocide but particularly so today. When we see the images of terrified Kurdish families in northern Syria, loading their possessions into cars or carts and fleeing their homes headed to nowhere except away from Turkish bombs, how can we truly say the crimes of a century ago are in the past? We cannot.

We cannot pick and choose which crimes against humanity are convenient to speak about. We cannot cloak our support of human rights and euphemisms. We cannot be cowed into cleanse by a foreign power. But what we can do, what we must do is state the facts. We can say that the ottoman empire committed this grotesque crime against the Armenians. But their campaign of extermination failed and above all we will never forget, we will never again be silenced.

Eliot Engel: Only by shining a light on the darkest parts of our history can we learn not to repeat them

The resolution before us is an important measure to set the record straight on the atrocities suffered by the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. We know what happened in this dark period of history between 1915 and 1923, 1.5 million Armenians were murdered.

This was a genocide and it’s important we call this crime what it was. Many American politicians, diplomats and institutions have rightly recognized these atrocities as a genocide, including america’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time, Henry Morenthaw and Ronald Reagan.

Only by shining a light on the darkest parts of our history can we learn not to repeat them and properly acknowledging what occurred is a necessary step in achieving some measure of justice for the victims. House resolution 296 sticks to the historical facts. It is a good commonsense measure with broad bipartisan support.

I want to thank Mr. Schiff, the resolution’s author, as well as Ms. Eshoo, Ms. Speier and the many other bipartisan champions of this issue for their persistent pursuit for recognition of the suffering the Armenian people endured.

I strongly support this measure and I urge all my colleagues to do the same. With its passage, we put congress on the right side of history properly acknowledging and condemning this horrific genocide. I reserve the balance of my time.

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