The co-chairman of the Congressional Turkey Caucus, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, was part of a U.S. Congressional delegation that paid tribute to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide at the Dzidzernagapert Memorial Complex in Yerevan on Thursday.
“This unprecedented visit – first-ever by a leader of a U.S. House caucus that aggressively obstructs honest U.S remembrance of the Armenian Genocide – may mark a retreat by Ankara’s traditional DC allies from decades of relentless attacks on this human rights issue,” said the Armenian National Committee of America in a Facebook post earlier Thursday.
“Good first step,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian in another Facebook post. “Next, he should cosponsor and work for the passage of H.Res.296,” referring to a resolution introduced last week in the U.S. House of Representatives aimed establishing, 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) the importance of education about the Armenian Genocide in preventing modern-day atrocities.
The members of Congress laid flowers at the Eternal Flame and paid tribute to the memory of the Genocide victims with a moment of silence.
They also visited the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, became acquainted with the exhibits and left a note in the Honorary Guest Book.
The Museum-Institute’s leadership handed over English-language books about the Armenian Genocide to the American lawmakers, who are part of the U.S. House Democracy Partnership Commission, a bi-partisan group that works directly with partner countries around the world to support the development of effective, independent, and responsive legislative institutions.
In addition to Rep. Connolly, the HDP delegation, which is headed by its co-chairs David Price (D-NC) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) includes representatives Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.). In addition to Armenia, the group will visit Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The delegation arrived in Yerevan Wednesday and met with Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly Ararat Mirzoyan and His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians at Etchmiadzin. Armenian lawmakers Gayane Abrahamyan and Hovhannes Hovhannisyan are accompanying the delegation.