Knollenberg-Pallone letter sent to President Bush Monday
WASHINGTON–Following an extensive nationwide grassroots campaign–more than 160 US Representatives have joined together in sending a clear message to President George Bush to keep his campaign pledge and properly characterize the Armenian Genocide as a "genocide" in his annual April 24 address–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)
"We thank Congressmen Knollenberg and Pallone for their leadership of this initiative and for all their efforts toward securing official US recognition of the Armenian Genocide," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA. "The strong–bipartisan support they generated for this letter demonstrates–once again–that the US Congress believes – despite the short-sighted policies of our State Department – that America should stand on the right side of this fundamental human rights issue."
"Today–as we confront the architects of world-wide terrorism–the need for full US recognition of the Armenian Genocide is more important than ever," added Hamparian. "Our moral standing represents a pillar of our war on terrorism. Our international leadership depends in large part on other nations viewing as an unwilling to impose double standards–one for friends–another for enemies. By speaking the truth about the Armenian Genocide–without evasive or euphemistic language–we signal the world that we will stand up against all injustice–past or present. The time has come to end all US complicity in Turkey’s shameful denial of the Armenian Genocide."
Launching the campaign on March 5–Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) wrote a letter to their House colleagues reminding them that last year–in his April 24 statement–President Bush "fell short of using the word genocide," and asking them to urge President Bush to honor his campaign pledge to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide as a genocide. They also pointed out to their colleagues that the European Union recently adopted a resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide. Since then–Members of Congress–including Reps. David Bonior (D-Mich.)–Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)–Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)–Constance Morella (R-Md.)–George Radanovich (R-Calif.)–Ed Royce (R-Calif.)–Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)–John Sweeney (R-NY) have circulated over a dozen "DearColleague" letters urging fellow House Members to add their names in support of the Knollenberg-Pallone letter.
"The 162 Members of Congress who signed on to this letter indicate that recognizing the Armenian Genocide is not a special interest issue–but rather an issue of national importance," remarked Rep. Knollenberg. "The President last year issued the strongest presidential proclamation on the Armenian Genocide in recent memory. I am hopeful that the strong support from the US House of Representatives for using the word ‘genocide’ in the proclamation will spur him to build on last year’s statement and use the word genocide."
Noting President Bush’s campaign pledge in which he referred to the "genocidal campaign" perpetrated against the Armenian people–the Representatives urged the President to "stand by your pledge made in 2000 and appropriately acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as genocide in your April 24th commemoration statement." The House members noted in their letter that the President’s 2001 statement regarding the tragedy "employed a dictionary definition of genocide in describing the ‘forced exile and annihilation of approximately 1.5 million Armenia’s in the closing years of the Ottoman Empire,’ but fell short of using the word genocide. This year–we hope you will go further than last year’s statement and specifically use the word "genocide."
Several House members–including Reps. Chris Cox (R-Calif.)–Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)–Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)–Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.)–and John Sununu (R-NH) are addressing President Bush individually with similar statemen’s regarding the Armenian Genocide. In her March 21st letter–Rep. Lee noted that–"genocide is the most potent of all crimes against humanity because it is an effort to wipe out a people and a culture as well as individual lives. History matters–and the history of the Armenian Genocide must never be forgotten." Rep. Sununu–in a letter sent April 12th–argued that–"we must ensure that the historical lessons of the Armenian Genocide are properly understood to prevent future atrocities. Therefore–I urge you to appropriately acknowledge the Armenian Genocide in your April 24 commemoration statement." Wisconsin Democrat Thomas Barrett also sent a letter to President Bush in which he did not refer to the Armenian Genocide but did make reference to April 24 as "Armenian Remembrance Day."