GLENDALE, CA – Despite an intense campaign of threats and coercion by the Turkish government and its lobbyists in Washington, as well as last minute opposition from the Obama Administration, the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee took a major step towards ending U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide by adopting the Armenian Genocide Resolution – H. Res. 252. The effort was led by Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We want to thank Chairman Berman who scheduled this measure for consideration by the Foreign Affairs Committee,” said ANCA-WR Chairwoman Aida Dimejian. “We would also like to thank Representatives Brad Sherman and Ed Royce, who spearheaded the panel’s adoption of the legislation and generated bipartisan support, as well as all members of the Committee who voted for the measure. They have truly demonstrated their dedication to rejecting a foreign government’s ability to place a gag rule on the United States Congress.”
During his remarks, Chairman Berman noted that even though the United States and Turkey are allies, there should be no justification for Turkey turning a blind eye to the reality of the Armenian Genocide. “Now I don’t pretend to be a professional historian. But the vast majority of experts – the vast majority – academics, authorities in international law, and others who have looked at this issue for years, agree that the tragic massacres of the Armenians constitute genocide,” stated Chairman Berman. He also referenced Professor Yehuda Bauer, a highly respected scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has called the Armenian Genocide “the closest parallel to the Holocaust.”
Congressman Brad Sherman, who serves as a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, also spoke in favor of ending Turkey’s gag rule.“They shouldn’t ask us to act like cowards and deny the truth,” stated the Congressman. “Would we have a good relationship with a German government that was denying the Holocaust? And who would have a good relationship with us if we were denying slavery and so many other things of our past?”
Voting in support of the measure were Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Howard Berman (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jim Costa (D-CA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Ron Klein (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Edward Royce (R-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Diane Watson (D-CA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Donald Manzullo (R-IL), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Gene Green (D-TX), and Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS).
Voting against the measure were Joe Wilson (R-SC), Mike Pence (R-IN), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Connie Mack (R-FL), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), David Scott (D-GA), Brad Miller (D-NC), Michael McMahon (D-NY), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Gresham Barrett (R-SC), John Boozman (R-AR), Dan Burton (R-IN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Bob Inglis (R-SC), Ron Paul (R-TX), Ted Poe (R-TX), Mike Ross (D-AR), John Tanner (D-TN), and Michael McCaul (R-TX). Jackson Lee Sheila (D-TX) did not vote.
H.Res.252, introduced in March of 2009 by lead sponsors Adam Schiff and George Radanovich (R-CA), and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), currently has over 137 cosponsors. A parallel Senate measure, spearheaded by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and John Ensign (R-NV), has 13 cosponsors. The Armenian Genocide resolution calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide.
Efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide have been welcomed by a broad range of coalition partners from the Greek, Jewish, Christian and genocide-prevention constituencies. The ANCA is continuing its “End Turkey’s Gag Rule” campaign, urging elected officials in the U.S. and around the world to reject Turkey’s attempts to silence international affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. For more information, visit http://www.anca.org/endthegagrule.
“We would like to thank our grassroots activists who provided the crucial support we needed during the months leading up to the markup of H. Res. 252,” said ANCA-WR Government Relations Director Lerna Shirinian. “It is important that we continue to strengthen our efforts and mobilize our community to ensure a victory in the full house.”
Photo caption: ANCA-WR Government Relations Director Lerna Kayserian Shirinian, ANCA-WR Chairwoman Aida Dimejian, Congressman Brad Sherman, and ANCA Government Relations Director Kate Nahapetian.