WASHINGTON–DC (ANCA)–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) participated in a press conference yesterday–organized by the Congressional Black Caucus and Africa Action–voicing its support for a nationwide–grassroots campaign to secure US intervention to stop the impending genocide in Sudan.
Congressional Black Caucus members–including Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD)–Representatives Donald Payne (D-NJ)–Barbara Lee (D-CA)–Diane Watson (D-CA)–Maxine Waters (D-CA)–Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)–and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) were joined by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)–Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO)–and Africa Action Executive Director Salih Booker in calling attention to the ongoing tragedy in Sudan–which has already claimed tens of thousands of lives in 2004.
In response to a question by ANCA Government Affairs Director Abraham Niziblian about individual involvement in stopping the cycle of genocide in Sudan–Rep. Payne cited the example of he Armenian Genocide–noting–"if we had done something then [in 1915]–we would not have had the 1930’s genocide committed by the Nazis." Salih then stressed the importance of participating in a petition drive initiated by Africa Action on June 15–calling on Secretary of State Colin Powell to support an immediate intervention to stop the killing [in Sudan]."
Over the past several weeks–the ANCA has called attention to the atrocities in Sudan through a series of letters to Congressional offices–urging them to take a stand to stop the cycle of genocide through support of Congressional initiatives regarding Sudan as well as for the Genocide Resolution (H.Res.193 / S.Res.164)–which reaffirms US commitment to the principles of the Genocide Convention.
In a June 17 memo to Congressional staff members–Niziblian stated–"As the descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide–Armenian Americans feel a special obligation to encourage our government to take the lead in preventing genocides–anywhere around the world. Please stand up against genocide in Sudan and do all that you can to ensure we–as a nation–meet our obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent and punish all instances of genocide." Similarly on June 23–Niziblian asked Members of Congress to "work for the passage of the Genocide Resolution (H.Res.193 and S.Res.164) to reaffirm our collective commitment to the aims of the Genocide Convention."
The Genocide Resolution was introduced in the Senate in June–2003 by Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ). Its companion House measure–H.Res.193–led by Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI)–was adopted unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee last May and has 111 cosponsors. The resolution cites the importance of remembering past crimes against humanity–including the Armenian Genocide–Holocaust–Cambodian and Rwandan genocides–in an effort to stop future atrocities. Support for the measure has been widespread–with a diverse coalition of over 100 ethnic–religious–civil and human rights organizations calling for its passage–including American Values–National Organization of Women–Sons of Italy–NAACP–Union of Orthodox Rabbis–and the National Council of La Raza.
Africa Action has reported that–"In Darfur–the Sudanese government is destroying African Muslim communities who have challenged the authoritarian rule of the government. Government forces and Arab militias known as the janjaweed have burned and pillaged thousands of villages–poisoned water systems–and subjected the population to large-scale rape and other atrocities."
On May 17–House Members overwhelmingly adopted H.Con.Res. 403–condemning the Sudanese Government for its attacks against innocent civilians in the impoverished Darfur region of western Sudan–by a margin of 360 to 1. Its companion resolution in the Senate–S.Con.Res. 99–was adopted unanimously on May 6. Rep. Payne announced that he would introduce additional legislation calling on the "UN Security Council to introduce a resolution authorizing intervention in Darfur" and "urging the US Administration to expose those responsible for the genocide."
INDIVIDUALS CAN PARTICIPATE IN THE AFRICA ACTION PETITION DRIVE BY VISITING: WWW.AFRICAACTION.ORG