Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has joined with Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in introducing the Armenian Genocide Education Act (S.1329), a bipartisan Senate companion to a House measure to allocate $10 million over five years to help educate American students about Ottoman Turkey’s 1915-1923 Genocide of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriac, Arameans, and Maronite Christians, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“The ANCA joins with Armenians and allied Americans in New Jersey, Tennessee, and across America in thanking Senators Menendez and Blackburn for building upon U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide by helping to ensure that American school children have the opportunity to learn about the Armenian Genocide, its lessons for today, and the present day costs and consequences of its denial,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We honor the past by ensuring that its horrors are not repeated – against Armenians or any at-risk population.”
Chairman Menendez explained, “For far too long, the world closed its eyes and chose to ignore human suffering, ignore persecution, and ignore the irrefutable facts of the Ottoman Empire’s barbarous massacre of the Armenian people. Such denialism not only flew in the face of our basic commitments to root out hatred and advance human rights everywhere, but gravely undermined our efforts to ensure that such atrocities never happen again. As we introduce our bipartisan Armenian Genocide Education Act, we affirm our commitment to acknowledging the truth and to the Armenian community worldwide, including in Nagorno-Karabakh. Only through learning about the darkest moments of the past can we hope to secure a brighter tomorrow.”
Sen. Blackburn concurred, noting “As the saying goes, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ The American people have a proud history of recognizing and denouncing the Armenian genocide and have provided relief and a new home to many who survived this campaign of mass extermination. Now, it’s important that our next generation have access to educational resources that teach them about these horrors with the hope that we can work together to prevent similar suffering in the future.”
ANC of Tennessee Chair Bearj Barsoumian welcomed Senator Blackburn’s leadership on the education measure. “I’m so incredibly proud to see Senator Marsha Blackburn, my senator, join our strongest ally in the Senate and co-lead such an important piece of legislation,” stated Barsoumian. “Not only is the Armenian Genocide Education Act an important piece of legislation, especially as our Nation witnesses genocide again, but her involvement truly drives home the importance of grassroots activism. The phone calls, the letters, the meetings – both and off Capitol Hill – can make a difference in engaging our elected leaders and in making strides to further our Cause.”
Barsoumian and ANC Tennessee advocate Sarah Cohan met with Sen. Blackburn and the Tennessee Congressional delegation, advocating for Genocide education and broader pro-Artsakh/Armenia policies during the ANCA Eastern Region Advocacy Days in February.
The Armenian Genocide Education Act builds upon the 2019 passage of H.Res.296 and S.Res.150, both of which specifically rejected any official U.S. association with Armenian Genocide denial. It seeks to counter discourse and propaganda that claims that Ottoman Turkey’s systematic and deliberate state-sponsored mass murder, national dispossession, cultural erasure, and exile of millions of Christians between 1915 and 1923 did not take place.
The House version of the Armenian Genocide Education Act (H.R.2803) is spearheaded by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). It currently has 54 cosponsors.