Pasadena, CA – At a press conference held outside U.S. Representative Adam Schiff’s district office, representatives of the Armenian National Committee – Western Region announced the launching of a nationwide postcard campaign calling upon Congressional leaders to schedule a vote on legislation condemning past genocides.
Representatives of the San Gabriel Valley ANC, La Crescenta ANC, and Burbank ANC chapters were present at the press conference. Various media covered the event, including the Pasadena Star-News and the Glendale News Press
In a statement issued by the ANCA-WR at the press conference, the importance of the House and Senate Resolutions were highlighted, along with the ANCA-WR’s longstanding dedication to forming coalitions with various organizations to promote the prevention of future genocides.
“We expect to flood Congressional offices with the postcards to show Congressional leaders in Washington that the Armenian Genocide is not merely a piece of legislation that comes up on the floor once a year,” said ANCA-WR Executive Director, Ardashes Kassakian. “It is a chapter of world history that has gone unrecognized and has the potential to be repeated as seen in subsequent Genocides. By passing these resolutions we can assure future generations that our nation reaffirms its moral position to denounce crimes against humanity whenever and wherever they occur.”
House Resolution 193, introduced in 2003 by Representatives George Radanovich (R-Fresno) and Adam Schiff (D-Glendale), calls upon Congress to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocides. Similar legislation – Senate Resolution 164 – was introduced in the U.S. Senate. The House resolution has over 100 cosponsors and passed the full House Judiciary Committee on May 21, 2003. It has yet to be scheduled for a vote by Congress. The newly launched postcard campaign calls upon House Speaker Dennis Hastert to schedule H.Res. 193 for a vote.
During a meeting in August of 2000, House Speaker Dennis Hastert pledged to Armenian-American community leaders to bring a resolution that addressed the Armenian Genocide to a vote on the floor. In October of the same year, minutes before a vote, the legislation was pulled from the House docket at the behest of then President Bill Clinton and Republican House leaders.
In addition to the traditional support from elected officials, notable public figures such as System of a Down’s Serj Tankian have been urging Congress to schedule a vote on H.Res. 193 and S. R 164. In a letter addressed to thousands of fans, Tankian urged them to send in postcards and emails in support of the genocide bills to Congress, via the ANCA website. In 2002, the ANCA-WR awarded the prestigious ANCA-WR Freedom Award to the members of System of a Down for their ongoing efforts to educate and raise public awareness about the Armenian Genocide.
“The ANC and I share a common goal: to finally have the United States officially recognize the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children for what it was — genocide,” said Rep. Schiff at the press conference. “I join the ANC in support of this grassroots post-card campaign and urge everyone to write Speaker Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Frist to let them know how very important H.R. 193 is to human rights both here in the U.S. and around the world.” Representatives Radanovich and Schiff have praised the ANCA’s postcard campaign.
“As Americans, we have an obligation to educate and familiarize the world on the Armenian Genocide,” Representative Radanovich emphasized in a written statement released at the press conference. “In fact, we must ensure that the legacy of the genocide is remembered, so that this human tragedy will not be repeated. I applaud this effort to pressure Congress to reaffirm their support of the Genocide Convention and to appropriately recognize the Armenian Genocide,” the statement concluded.
Both Representative Radanovich and Schiff have asked that the Armenian American community pay tribute to the memories of those who perished in the Armenian Genocide by working together to pass the Genocide Resolution in the U.S. Congress.
“Representatives Schiff and Radanovich have always stood shoulder to shoulder with the ANC regarding issues of concern to Armenian-Americans and people of good will who seek an end to all genocides,” commented Raffi Hamparian, ANCA-WR Chair. “In 2000, Rep. Radanovich led an uphill battle for the reaffirmation of the Genocide and since entering Congress, Rep. Schiff has been a proactive advocate of this issue,” added Hamparian.
The postcard, which can be viewed on the ANCA website – www.anca.org – displays graphic images of genocides throughout the 20th century, starting from the Armenian Genocide up to the genocides in Rwanda and in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The System of the Down Website – www.systemofadown.com – features a link to the ANCA website through which thousands of people from around the world are able to learn more about the legislation and the ANCA-WR’s efforts. Already, close to 50,000 users have visited the Web site since the link was posted by the band less than two weeks ago.
To order copies of postcards, contact the ANCA-WR offices at (818) 500-1918 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.