May 14, 2014 - 11:59 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - As part of a Congressional Delegation to the Middle East and Asia focused on terrorism, homeland security and the war in Syria, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) had separate meetings with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul and other high-ranking government officials.
In his meeting with the Prime Minister, Schiff challenged the notion expressed by Erdogan in a recent interview that because there are Armenian survivors still living in Turkey, there could have been no genocide. This is the equivalent, Schiff argued, of saying that because some Jews in Europe escaped death, there was no Holocaust.
Schiff also questioned whether it was possible to have the open discourse in Turkey about the events of 1915-1923 that Erdogan called for in his statement of April 23, if Turkish professors, historians, journalists and ordinary citizens still faced demotion, intimidation, potential prosecution or violence for expressing the conviction that the Armenian Genocide is a historic fact.
In his meeting with President Gul, Schiff said that he wanted to speak for the many tens of thousands of his constituents of Armenian descent who may never get the chance to address the President directly.
"You will not find one of my 80,000 Armenian constituents untouched by the Genocide," he said. "Each of them has lost a parent or grandparent, their cousins, brothers or sisters, or their entire family. Their pain is real, their wounds are open, this is no distant relic of the past. To say, as you and the Prime Minister have, that yes, Armenians suffered but so too did Turks during World War I, is akin to saying that the Germans also suffered during World War II. It is true that many German civilians died, many noncombatants, but that does not negate the Holocaust any more than the fact that many Turks died could negate the Genocide. To propose, as you have, that a historic commission be established to ascertain the facts of the Genocide is not unlike suggesting that a commission needs to be established to determine whether the Holocaust took place."
Schiff also raised the issue of Kessab, and his concern over the forced evacuation of the historic Armenian community there and the wellbeing of those residents who are now refugees in Turkey.