The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) delivered a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT)–urging him to support S.Res.307–and forwarded the list of Armenian American organizations supporting this legislation marking the anniversary of full US membership in the Genocide Convention.
In the September 16th letter–ANCA Chairman Kenneth Hachikian stressed that–"Having experienced the tremendous pain and loss that the Armenian Genocide – and its denial – have inflicted upon Armenian families around the world–we are working so that the lessons of past genocides – the Holocaust–the Armenian Genocide–the genocides in Rwanda–Cambodia and elsewhere–are put to use in preventing future genocides. This legislation represents an important step in this direction." Attached to the letter was a list of organizations – both Armenian and non-Armenian – supporting this legislation.
Introduced by Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ)–S.Res.307 commemorates the adoption by Congress and the signing into law by President Reagan in 1988 of legislation implementing the Genocide Convention. This step–taken two years after the formal ratification of the Convention by the US Senate in 1986–marked the official participation of the United States in this landmark international treaty. The resolution specifically mentions the Armenian Genocide–the Holocaust–and the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides–and stresses that the lessons of these atrocities should be used to help prevent future genocides.
In the letter–Hachikian went on to note that–"as a long-time champion of human rights–we look to you [Leahy] for assistance and are counting on your support. The Rwandan Genocide of only eight years ago reminds us daily that the threat of genocide remains ever-present. Clearly–we must do everything in our power to prevent this most terrible of all crimes."
The list of Senate cosponsors continues to grow daily and currently includes: Senators George Allen (R-VA)–Barbara Boxer (D-CA)–Jon Corzine (D-NJ)–Richard Durbin (D-IL)–John Ensign (R-NV)–Russell Feingold (D-WI)–Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)–Tim Johnson (D-SD)–Ted Kennedy (D-MA)–Carl Levin (D-MI)–Jack Reed (D-RI)–Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)–Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)–Robert Torricelli (D-NJ)–and Paul Wellstone (D-MN).
The legislation has also garnered the support of a broad spectrum of Armenian American and non-Armenian organizations. Among the Armenian American organizations supporting S.Res.307 in the letter to Chairman Leahy include: the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics; Armenian Missionary Association of America; Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Eastern US; Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Western US; Armenian Council of America; Armenian National Committee of America; Armenian Relief Society; Armenian Youth Federation; Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural and Educational Association; Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union; Armenia Fund USA; Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council; Armenian Bar Association; Land and Culture Organization; National Organization of Republican Armenia’s–and; Tekeyan Cultural Association.
Organizations representing a diverse group of ethnicities in support of this legislation include the: American Hellenic Institute; American Hellenic Media Project; Arab American Institute; Brookdale College Center of Holocaust Studies; Bulgarian Institute for Research and Analysis; Cambodian Association of America; Campaign to End Genocide; Christian Solidarity International; Hellenic American Council; Lao Human Rights Council; Order–Sons of Italy in America–and; United Hellenic American Congress.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian cited the central role of the Genocide Convention in international law and as a tool to prevent future genocides during his speech yesterday before the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Minister Oskanian noted that–"as a signatory of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide–the Armenian Government places a high priority on the struggle to prevent future genocides and to stand up against all attempts to deny past genocides." He went on to specifically endorse "initiatives that reinforce the international consensus behind this landmark treaty."
Commenting on the legislation–Samantha Power–the author of "A Problem from Hell" – America and the Age of Genocide–has said that:
"For too long American leaders and citizens have reflexively uttered the phrase ‘never again’ without taking concrete steps to give the slogan meaning. This legislation (S.Res.307) marks the beginning of a twenty-first century campaign to get the US government to commit itself politically AND operationally to prevent future genocide."
Power recently ended her tenure as the Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.