WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America Monday joined with Armenian Americans from across the United States in mourning the loss of long-serving California Congressman Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor and human rights champion who, in his final months in office, played a vital role, as Chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, in this panel’s adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.
In separate letters to Congressman Lantos’ wife of 58 years, Annette, and to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian underscored the gratitude of the Armenian American community to Chairman Lantos for his leadership in rejecting the powerful forces of denial and securing, this past October, his Committee’s passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Hachikian also shared the hope and expectation that the full House of Representatives will, in the coming weeks, complete the Chairman’s unfinished work by securing full Congressional recognition and commemoration of this crime against all humanity.
Speaking on the PBS Newshour on October 11, 2007, a day after the Resolution’s adoption at the committee level, Chairman Lantos told correspondent Margaret Warner that, "This is one of those events, Margaret, which has to be settled once and for all: 1.5 million utterly innocent Armenian men, women and children were slaughtered. And the Turkish government, until now, has intimidated the Congress of the United States from taking this measure… I think it’s important, at a time when genocides are going on in Darfur and elsewhere, not to be an accomplice in sweeping an important genocide under the rug."
Elected to office in 1980, Lantos was Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and one of the country’s leading champions of human rights. In 1983 he co-founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Commenting on her husband’s passing, his widow noted that his life was "defined by courage, optimism, and unwavering dedication to his principles and to his family." The date for a public memorial service has not yet been set.