WASHINGTON–DC–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) welcomed the recent adoption by the US House of a resolution honoring the victims of the Cambodian Genocide and renewed its calls on the Congressional leadership to schedule a vote on pending legislation–H.Res.193 and S.Res.164–marking the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the Genocide Convention.
"Armenian Americans welcome the passage by the US House of this legislation calling for justice for the victims of the Cambodian Genocide," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA. "If we are to prevent future genocidal crimes–we must – as a nation and an international community – ensure that justice is served–the guilty punished–and restitution and compensation provided to all those victimized by the perpetrators of genocide."
The resolution–H.Con.Res.83–which was introduced this March by California Democrat Juanita Millender-McDonald–was adopted by a vote of 420 to 1 under an expedited Congressional procedure for non-controversial measures known as the Suspension of the Rules. With this resolution the US House both "honors the victims of the genocide in Cambodia that took place beginning in April 1975 and ending in January 1979," and cites that it "is committed to pursue justice" for the "1,700,000 to 3,000,000 people [who] were deliberately and systematically killed in Cambodia in one of the worst human tragedies of the modern era."
Speaking on the House floor in support of this resolution–Rep. Millender-McDonald stressed that–"Passage of this measure is a start in the pursuit of justice for the victims of the Cambodian genocide." She was joined by Congressman Jim Leach (R-IA)–who noted that–"In the field of law–there exists the precept of a statute of limitations. But for genocide–mankind’s greatest crime–such a precept cannot be bound merely by time. There also must be accountability. While justice and time are interwoven–the preeminent principle is justice. To the extent that accountability today is inadequate–accountability tomorrow must follow."
Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA)–who has been long-noted for his strident opposition to legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide–followed Rep. Leach on the House floor. He spoke in favor of the resolution–noting that with its passage–the Congress will " remember the victims of the Cambodian genocide–not only those who perished in Cambodia’s Killing Fields–but those who were left to live with the physical and psychological scars inflicted by the hands of the brutal Khmer Rouge."
Also speaking in favor of the resolution was Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)–who stressed that "we must do more than pass a resolution – we must make sure that we are committed to democracy in Cambodia. Let us not turn our backs again or put our hands over our ears when we hear that things are going wrong in Cambodia." The final speaker on the resolution was Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA)–who noted that–"This resolution represents a small but important step in honoring the victims–their survivors–and their descendants by making public and vivid the hidden details of the Cambodian genocide. This resolution should remind the world not only of the horrors perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge but of the horrors of genocide in Europe–Africa–and around the world."
The Cambodian Genocide is also cited–along with the Armenian Genocide–Holocaust and Rwandan Genocide–in legislation marking the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the Genocide convention. The Senate resolution–S.Res.164–was introduced in by Nevada Republican John Ensign and New Jersey Democrat Jon Corzine–and currently has 35 cosponsors. The House version–H.Res.193–was introduced by Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg in April. With 110 cosponsors–the resolution was adopted unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee.