WASHINGTON — In commemoration of the 93rd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (DCA) reaffirmed her commitment to this critical human rights issue.
“It is long past time for the president and Congress to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide,” Pelosi told the crowd gathered at an observance event on Capitol Hill. “If we ignore history we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past.
“On this anniversary we must remember the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide,” she continued. “We must provide the leadership to ensure that this human tragedy is not repeated.”
Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) spearheaded the April 23 observance event, held in conjunction with the Assembly, ARMENPAC and other Armenian organizations.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (DMD), in his remarks, discussed the importance of recognizing the transgressions of the past in order to prevent future crimes. “
Denial is the child of repetition,” Hoyer said. “If one does not remember that which happened, and recognize it for what it was — a genocide, then the risk of it being repeated is far greater.”
Echoing Hoyer, Senator Robert Menendez (DNJ) said that the United States makes an enormous mistake as a country, when it denies the existence of genocide. As a cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (S. Res. 106), Menendez promised to vote for the resolution when it is brought to the Senate floor, saying “nothing will deter me when that opportunity comes up.”
Delivering the keynote address was Dr. Gregory Stanton, president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), a global, interdisciplinary, non-partisan organization that seeks to further research and teach about the nature, causes, and consequences of genocide, and advance policy studies on prevention of genocide.
While discussing the history and the House Resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, Stanton said that the United States, once again, “surrendered to the 90-year campaign of denial by the government of Turkey.”
Stanton added that “the State Department and the White House have continued the cowardly policies of every Secretary of State since Lansing, who have considered it more important to placate the Turkish government, than to be truthful about history.”
“Denial is actually the continuation of genocide,” and according to Stanton, Turkey has three favorite methods to continue genocide denial, and they are:
1) Blame the victims by claiming the killings were in self-defense against people who were disloyal to the Ottoman Empire; 2) Claim that Muslim Turks suffered many deaths and 3) Claim that the deaths were inadvertent due to lack of food and water, not due to intentional destruction.
Stanton explained that these claims are proven false and problematic by the eyewitnesses and by American counselor officers, missionaries and “most tellingly perhaps, in the archives of the old allies — Germany, Austria and Hungary.” “
This was not simply a by-product of deportation, this was mass murder intended by starvation.”
The attendees or speakers also included Michelle Bachman (R-MN); Gus Bilirakis (R-FL); Jim Costa (D-CA); David Dreier (R-CA); Anna Eshoo (D-CA); Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Jim McGovern (D-MA); George Radanovich (R-CA); Steven Rothman (D-NJ); Ed Royce (R-CA); Adam Schiff (D-CA); Brad Sherman (D-CA); Jackie Speier (D-CA); Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Frank Wolf (R-VA).
Tatoul Markarian, Armenian ambassador to the US, and Vardan Barshegian, representative of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic, also addressed the crowd.
“We appreciate Speaker Pelosi’s commitment and leadership to ensure the unequivocal affirmation of the Armenian Genocide,” said Assembly Board of Trustees Chairman Hirair Hovnanian. “In the face of Turkey’s ongoing denial campaign, the Armenian-American community will not rest until the United States reaffirms the incontestable fact of the Armenian Genocide,” added Hovnanian.