Rejects Turkey’s Gag-Rule against American Remembrance of this Crime. Ankara Reacts by Calling Members of Congress ‘Irresponsible.’
WASHINGTON–The U.S. Senate struck a historic blow today against Turkey’s century-long obstruction of justice for the Armenian Genocide, unanimously adopting S.Res.150, an Armenian National Committee of America-backed measure that locks in ongoing U.S. recognition of this crime.
The resolution, identical to a measure (H.Res.296) adopted 405 to 11 in the U.S. House in October, officially rejects Turkey’s denials of its genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christian nations. Passage of the resolution – spearheaded by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) – marks the first time that the Senate has recognized the Armenian Genocide.
“The Senate today joined the House in rejecting Ankara’s gag-rule against honest American remembrance of the Armenian Genocide – overriding the largest, longest foreign veto over the U.S. Congress in American history,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Today’s unanimous Senate action shines a spotlight on the President, who continues – against all reason – to enforce Erdogan’s veto against honest American remembrance of Turkey’s extermination and exile of millions of Christians. It’s time for the Executive Branch to join Congress in ending any and all American complicity in Ankara’s lies. Together, the President and Congress should put in place a sustained and pro-active policy that rejects Turkey’s lies, challenges Ankara’s obstruction of justice, and works with Armenian and Turkish stakeholders toward the international reparations and other remedies required of this crime.”
During an impassioned Senate floor session, Sen. Menendez said, “We have just passed the Armenian genocide resolution recognition, and it is fitting and appropriate that the senate stands on the right side of history in doing so. It commemorates the truth of the Armenian genocide.”
His remarks were followed by reflections from Sen. Cruz: “From 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire carried out a forced deportation of nearly two million Armenians, of whom 1.5 million were killed. It was an atrocious genocide. That it happened is a fact and an undeniable reality. Over 100 years ago, the world remained silent as the Armenian people suffered and were murdered and even today many people are unaware of what happened. But we must never be silent in response to atrocity.”
Menendez, who was visibly choked up, concluded his remarks by stating, “I am thankful that this resolution has passed at a time in which there are still survivors of the genocide.”
The Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.Res.150) establishes, as a matter of U.S. policy, 1) the rejection of Armenian Genocide denial, 2) ongoing official U.S. government recognition and remembrance of this crime, and 3) support for education about the Armenian Genocide in order to help prevent modern-day atrocities.
The ANCA has consistently pushed back against Turkey’s denials, striving to put America on the right side of the Armenian Genocide. Thousands of letters and phone calls have already been sent to Congress by Armenian American advocates through the ANCA online portal – anca.org/genocide.
Official Yerevan Reacts
Moments after the passage of S.Res 150, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan took to social media to express their gratitude to the Senate on behalf of Armenia.
“Thank you US Senate Resolution 150 is a victory of justice and truth. On behalf of the Armenian people worldwide, I express our profound appreciation to the Senate for this landmark legislation. This is tribute to the memory of 1.5 million victims of the first #Genocide of the 20th century and bold step in promotion of the prevention agenda. NeverAgain,” said Pashinyan in a post on Twitter.
“US Senate Res 150 unanimously adopted is a decisive step in serving justice, truth and recognition of Armenian Genocide. We are overwhelmed with appreciation. A tribute to the victims and their dignity. Thank you SenatorMenendez and Senator Cruz and all members of the US Senate,” said Mnatsakanyan in a Twitter post.
Ankara Not Happy; Calls Members of Congress ‘Irresponsible’
Official Ankara reacted swiftly to the news of the Senate’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
“The behavior of some members of the U.S. Congress is damaging the Turkish-American ties.The sanctions bill that passed yesterday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Armenian resolution that passed today in the Senate endanger the future of our bilateral relationship,” said Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s spokesperson said on Twitter.
“In every previous attempt to politicize history by some members of the US Congress, we reiterated our position to form a group to study it. We expressed that history should not be something that divides nations but unites them,” said Altun.
“But some members of the US congress in the last few months made every attempt to disregard the viewpoint and sensitivities of a NATO ally and acted irresponsibly to strain the ties between two nations and two states,” added Altun, apparently forgetting that 405 out of 435 House members voted for the resolution in October, while Thursday’s vote was a unanimous consent, thus his remarks signal that official Ankara believes that almost all U.S. lawmakers are “irresponsible.”
“The resolutions will not bring any good to the relations between Turkey and the US. As we stated previously we expect our armenian [sic] brothers to stand up and prevent the US Congress to destroy any attempt to reconcile our differences through scientific and academic channels,” added Altun.
“History will note these resolutions as irresponsible and irrational actions by some members of the US Congress against Turkey. They will go down in history as the responsible party for causing a long lasting damage between two nations,” said Altun.
Senators Respond in Support of the Unanimous Adoption of S.Res.150
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY):
“I am proud to champion the long overdue passage of this resolution to formalize full American recognition of the Armenian genocide. The Senate’s passage of the bipartisan Armenian genocide resolution was shamefully blocked by Senate Republicans three times at the behest of the White House for cynical reasons. Now, it is urgent that President Trump drop his unseemly obeisance to Mr. Erdogan on this matter and express his support for the resolution. It is our sacred duty to speak out against the genocidal terrors of the past, and for those victims who cannot speak themselves. I applaud my colleague, Senator Bob Menendez, for his relentless and steadfast commitment to gaining the approval of the United States Congress.”
Bob Casey (D-PA): “I’m encouraged to see the passage of the Senate resolution yesterday I cosponsored recognizing the #ArmenianGenocide. Congress has finally spoken with one voice to honor the victims and stand up against horrific crimes against humanity.”
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): “I join the Armenian American community in MA & the rest of the Armenian diaspora in celebrating the Senate passage of a resolution recognizing the #ArmenianGenocide. I cosponsored S.Res.150 to recognize this tragedy. It has been far too long.”
Kevin Cramer (R-ND): “With the President’s NATO meetings concluded, I am grateful we took advantage of this moment in time to acknowledge and remember #ArmenianGenocide.”
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI): “The Senate just passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, meaning Congress has come together to confirm history & recognize this tragedy for what it truly was. I am grateful to those in the Michigan Armenian community & so many others who have fought for this moment.”
Gary Peters (D-MI): “I cosponsored the resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide and was proud to support its passage in the Senate. This recognition is long overdue. We must never forget what happened and remember the 1.5 million Armenians who were killed.”
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): “I’m glad our resolution to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide has passed the Senate. Let’s remember and honor the victims of this terrible atrocity and renew our vow of ‘never again.'”
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD): “Today, after years of trying, the Senate passed a resolution recognizing the awful reality of the #ArmenianGenocide. We must not turn away from history. We must confront it and learn from it. I salute all who have fought for the truth to prevail.”
Cortez Masto (D-NV): “I am a proud cosponsor of this resolution to commemorate the 1.5 million Armenians who lost their lives in the #ArmenianGenocide. We must recognize and educate people on this tragedy and ensure that we as a nation continue to stand up against horrific crimes against humanity.”
Ed Markey (D-MA): “The Senate just voted to formally recognize the #ArmenianGenocide. Congress has finally spoken with one voice to honor the victims of the Genocide and ensure we will never forget. This is an historic day for our country, our world, the Armenian people, and the truth.”
Jack Reed (D-RI): “Not even Trump/Erdogan can veto historical facts. Pleased the U.S. Senate has FINALLY gone on record calling for official recognition and remembrance of #ArmenianGenocide & promoting education to prevent genocide & uphold human rights.”
U.S. House of Representatives Respond in Support of the Unanimous Adoption of S.Res.150
Adam Schiff (D-CA): “BREAKING: The Senate just joined the House by passing the Armenian Genocide resolution introduced by @SenatorMenendez and @tedcruz. The Congress is now united in speaking the truth about the genocide. It’s time for the President to join us.”
Don Beyer (D-VA): “Historic: for the first time, both chambers of the United States Congress have passed resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide. With nearly unanimous bipartisan support.”
TJ Cox (D-CA): “I was proud to help lead on formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide in the House, not because of global events, but because this tragedy should never have been left unacknowledged.”
Jim Costa (D-CA): “Pleased to see that my colleagues in the Senate just voted to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. Only through acknowledging the suffering of these victims can we ensure future generations never forget.”
Frank Pallone (D-NJ): “Good to see the Senate following the House’s lead in recognizing the #ArmenianGenocide. This resolution will never undo the horrors the victims endured, but it is a powerful reminder that America stands firmly opposed to atrocities and crimes against humanity.”
Linda Sanchez (D-CA): “Thank you to all the Senators who did the right thing and voted to officially recognize the #ArmenianGenocide. I urge the President to do the same.”
Jackie Speier (D-CA): “Thx @SenatorMenendez & Senate colleagues for joining the House in formally recognizing the #ArmenianGenocide. Like many Armenians, I grew up hearing of the genocide’s horrors. This eases some of that pain & America has sent a clear message – perpetrators will be held accountable.”
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA): “I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for following the House’s lead & officially recognizing the Armenian genocide. The persecution & murder of Armenians at the hands of the Turkish government was a crime against humanity. Proud that we are finally on the right side of history.”