ANCA Calls on President Obama to Condemn Gordon Statements
WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) on Monday expressed shock and disappointment at U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phil Gordon’s remarks seeking to cover up recent threats by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to deport Armenian citizens from Turkey.
“Prime Minister Erdogan’s menacing threat to deport Armenians represents the most chilling evidence that Turkey, despite the best efforts of its Washington allies to whitewash its record, remains committed and to the same violent attitudes and intentions that led to the Genocide of 1915,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Sec. Gordon, having already played a central role in enforcing Turkey’s gag rule within the Administration and recently in Congress, has now reached a new low, becoming a personal apologist for hateful and violence-inciting threats by Erdogan. We call upon President Obama to immediately condemn Secretary Gordon’s comments and affirm for the record that the U.S. government in no way condones renewed threats by Turkey against the Armenian people.”
Just weeks after the Swedish Parliament and the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan told BBC reporters, that “There are 170,000 Armenians in my country, of which 70,000 are my citizens. We’re turning a blind eye to the other 100,000. However, tomorrow, if it becomes necessary, I would say to those 100,000, go back to your country. Why? Because they’re not my citizens; I’m not obliged to keep them in my country.”
Despite outrage expressed by Government officials and media around the world and within Turkey, Assistant Secretary Phillip Gordon tried to explain away Erdogan’s comments as a mere statement on immigration policy. “In my opinion, Prime Minister Erdogan only wanted to highlight that there are 100,000 Armenians living in Turkey illegally. I don’t believe he threatened to deport them from the country. Those are separate issues. Every country has an issue with illegal immigrants and approaches it according to its laws,” Gordon remarked. The comment was originally reported by CNN-Turk, reprinted in the Armenian news site Tert.am, and verified by the ANCA in a conversation with State Department officials.
As Senator and Presidential candidate, President Obama pledged to recognize the Armenian Genocide, stating “America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.” Despite campaign statements in support of Armenian Genocide legislation, the Administration attempted and failed to block House Foreign Affairs committee passage of H.Res.252, adopted by a vote of 23-22 on March 4th. Comments from unnamed Administration officials, reported widely in U.S. press, that a deal had been struck between the White House and Congress to shelve the resolution were disavowed by Gordon earlier this week.
Congressional Support for Armenian Genocide Resolution Continues to Grow
Meanwhile, Congressional support for the Armenian Genocide resolution continued to grow this week, with House Education Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) the latest to add their names to the 139 cosponsors of the resolution. The Senate version of the legislation, led by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and John Ensign (R-NV) currently has 13 cosponsors.
The ANCA is continuing its “End Turkey’s Gag Rule” campaign, urging elected officials in the U.S. and around the world to reject Turkey’s attempts to silence international affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. For more information, visit http://www.anca.org/endthegagrule.