April 21, 2015 - 09:20 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - On the heels of Pope Francis’ historic statement reaffirming the Armenian Genocide and the European Parliament’s overwhelming condemnation of that crime last week, Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Barbara Boxer (D-Ill.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced legislation seeking durable Armenian-Turkish relations based on Turkey’s “full acknowledgment” of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The bipartisan legislation is being launched on the eve of President Barack Obama’s anticipated April 24 statement, widely viewed as a watershed moment in terms of U.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide.
The measure praises the Pontiff for describing “the atrocities perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks against the Armenians as the first genocide of the 20th Century.” It is nearly identical to one introduced in April 2014—with the addition of language regarding the Pope’s reaffirmation. A revised version of the resolution was adopted by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, by a 12 to 5 vote last year.
“The Pope’s inspirational call to conscience—reflected in today’s Armenian Genocide legislation and reinforced by calls from all corners of American civil society—shines a welcome spotlight on the clear choice before President Obama on April 24. With the world watching during this solemn Centennial, President Obama needs to decide. He can speak the truth, and establish a legacy of principled American leadership against genocide; or, he can cave in to Ankara’s threats, allowing the Turkish government to tighten the gag-rule it so publicly enforces on the U.S. government,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“We join with our community and all our genocide-prevention coalition partners in supporting the principled leadership of Senators Menendez, Kirk, Boxer and Gardner. We are particularly encouraged that this forward-looking measure urges President Obama to seek an enduring improvement in Armenian-Turkish relations through the only principled and practical path, Ankara’s full acknowledgement and honest reckoning with this still unpunished crime,” said Hamparian.
Lead sponsors—Menendez, Kirk, Boxer, and Gardner—cited the importance of a clear U.S. policy reaffirming the Armenian Genocide.
“One hundred years ago, 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children were killed by Ottoman Turks during the Armenian Genocide,” Sen. Menendez said. “It is past time for this atrocity to be recognized for what it was: a targeted ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population. This Resolution makes clear that it is unacceptable to deny the facts and history of the Armenian Genocide and continue to silence the voices of those who perished. As the world gathers to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, the United States must commit itself to recognizing the full meaning, magnitude and history of this genocide in order to both honor the innocent victims and prevent similar tragedies from happening again,” he said.
“100 years is far too long not to call the murder of 1.5 million Armenians what it was: genocide,” said Kirk. “In April 1915 during the beginning of WWI, the Ottoman Turks systematically killed 1.5 million Armenians and forced many others to flee their homeland. It is long past time that the United States recognize it as a genocide and honor the victims, those who survived and ensure atrocities such as this never happen again.”
“This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide—an unspeakable tragedy that has left a dark stain on the collective conscience of the world,” Boxer said. “More than 20 countries, 43 U.S. states and Pope Francis have unequivocally affirmed the Armenian Genocide and it is time for the United States to join them.”
“This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of one of the greatest crimes against humanity of the 20th century, the Armenian Genocide,” said Gardner. “The lives of as many as 1.5 million men, women, and children were brutally ended, leaving lasting scars on the families and communities affected. This resolution honors the memory of those who were killed, and helps us resolve anew to never allow such an event to occur again.”
A parallel measure (H.Res.154), the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives spearheaded by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Robert Dold (D-Ill.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), and David Valadao (R-Calif.).