WASHINGTON–The two leading contenders for Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, Andrew Romanoff and Michael Bennet, have staked out their views on U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Romanoff, a longstanding and vocal advocate for Armenian Genocide recognition, announced his candidacy on September 16th, challenging Bennet, who has held this Senate seat since he was appointed earlier this year by Colorado’s Governor Bill Ritter to fill the vacancy left when Ken Salazar departed the Senate to serve as Secretary of the Interior. During his service in the Senate, Salazar established a record, along with nearly all the other members in the state’s Congressional delegation, of co-sponsoring the Armenian Genocide Resolution, advocating Armenian priorities, and supporting anti-genocide initiatives.
In an exclusive letter to the Rocky Mountain Hye Advocates [text below], Romanoff, the former Speaker of the Colorado House, reviewed his extensive record in support of Armenian American concerns and pledged, if elected, to be an original co-sponsor of a Senate Armenian Genocide Resolution.
Rocky Mountain Hye Advocates co-editor and ANCA activist Vi Bashian Cooper praised Mr. Romanoff’s steadfast record of support stating; “Speaker Romanoff has repeatedly demonstrated his longstanding loyalty to our community and our abiding wish to have the Armenian Genocide affirmed as United States policy. His actions as a Colorado state legislator, including his service as Speaker of the House, confirm his consistent dedication and honor to Colorado Armenian Americans. Mr. Romanoff is one of those rare shining lights of character and intellect on the Colorado political stage. He will represent our Rocky Mountain state and our national Armenian-American community with distinction should he be elected to the United States Senate.”
Senator Bennet, in letters sent to his Armenian American constituents during his first months in office, addressed the Armenian Genocide as a “heartfelt opinion.” More recently, including in a letter received by RMHA on October 26th, he has been more straightforward, describing the Ottoman Turkish Empire’s systematic slaughter of Armenians as genocide. He further states that, “I certainly understand your frustration with those who would attempt to qualify or recast these deaths as mere casualties of war.” Senator Bennet remains silent as to whether he will co-sponsor the Armenian Genocide Resolution, S.Res.316, currently before the U.S. Senate.
“Armenian Americans from across Colorado welcome our friend Andrew Romanoff’s reaffirmation of his longstanding record in support of Armenian Genocide condemnation and commemoration, and are, as well, very gratified that Senator Bennet has joined with so many of his colleagues in our state’s Congressional delegation in properly recognizing this crime against humanity,” said Jirair Christianian, a Colorado Armenian American businessman and ANCA grassroots activist. “We look to Senator Bennet, in the coming days, to act upon his principled stand by agreeing to serve as an official cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.”
For his part, Governor Ritter, who appointed Bennet, has a strong record on the Armenian Genocide. He has continued the tradition of his predecessors in annually issuing an Armenian Commemoration proclamation. Last month, he distinguished Colorado as the first state in the nation proclaiming “Genocide Awareness Day.”
Text of Senate Candidate Andrew Romanoff’s Letter to Rocky Mountain Hye Advocates:
October 27, 2009
Rocky Mountain Hye Advocates
Dear Mrs. Bashian Cooper and Ms. Barsam Brown,
As a state legislator, I was proud to serve as an original cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide resolution. I will do the same in the United States Senate.
I have actively supported the recognition of the Armenian Genocide – an atrocity resulting in the extermination of three-quarters of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian minority population. Today, Armenians remain on the defensive, as evidenced by California’s federal appeals court decision last month related to WWI/Ottoman Empire insurance claims. The federal appellate panel finding stated, “There is an express federal policy prohibiting legislative recognition of an ‘Armenian genocide.'” The court’s interpretation of our national commitment should be a red flag that it is imperative our Congress adopt an Armenian genocide resolution and render denial unacceptable.
This year, as Colorado became the first state in the nation to establish a “Genocide Awareness Day,” I addressed my remarks during the press event to single out the first genocide of the 20th century. As George Santayana said. “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We know from experiencing today’s horrors in Darfur that we must be vigilant in recalling our past as we seek to end ethnic and cultural devastation.
As a member of Colorado’s House of Representatives, I was a cosponsor of the first General Assembly resolution in 2002 proclaiming April 24th as our “Colorado Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.” I continued my cosponsorship of this annual resolution in 2003 and 2004.
In 2005, I was proud to be its prime sponsor, commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. At the invitation of “Armenians of Colorado,” I spoke at their annual commemorative ceremony conducted on the State Capitol grounds at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Plaque.
In 2006, as Colorado’s Speaker of the House, I was honored to sign the joint Remembrance resolution. Later, as a guest of the “AOC,” I spoke of our work in Colorado to affirm the Armenian Genocide resolution and our efforts to secure its adoption at the national level.
In 2007 and 2008, my last session in the Colorado House of Representatives, I was again honored as House Speaker to sign the General Commemorative Resolution.
My record speaks to my sense of duty and moral clarity in working with Colorado’s Armenian community to press for the adoption of a United States resolution which affirms the historical record of the Armenian genocide.
I look forward to representing Colorado. Thank you for your consideration.