LIEBERMAN URGES CONGRESS "NEVER TO FORGET AND NEVER TO LET THE WORLD FORGET" THE GENOCIDE
WASHINGTON–DC–Former Presidential candidate Bob Dole and recent Vice-Presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) joined members of the Senate and House in stressing the importance of Armenian Genocide recognition during the May 8th Capitol Hill Observance. The annual event was co-sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)–Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Former Senate Majority Leader Dole–referring to the Senate battles he led over the years urging U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide–told the more than 250 attendees at the observance that he "admires the Armenian community for its insistence that the United States–Turkey and other nations come to terms with the Genocide and the other atrocities that were visited on the Armenian people in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire." The most recent Senate battle–which culminated in several days of intense floor debate in 1990 essentially "ended up in 50-50 tie – that’s the way the Senate is split today–just in other ways," explained Dole.
Senator Dole went on to mention his ongoing commitment to a secure–prosperous–and democratic Armenia–stating "I’ve been to Armenia. I was there after the earthquake with my wife Elizabeth and I have been there since–working with Kirk Kirkorian–trying to find jobs and opportunities for young Armenia’s." He noted that at the beginning of the 20th century over 500,000 survivors of the Armenian Genocide were forced to leave their homes and start a new lives in other countries. Similarly–he noted–that now at the beginning of the 21st century "about 500,000 young people have left Armenia’since the yoke of communism was removed." He pledged to work with the Armenian American community in working against this outward migration by providing economic opportunities for the people of Armenia and "working diligently to promote freedom from without and within."
Senator Dole was presented with the ANCA Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of work–both in and out of Congress–toward official U.S. Armenian Genocide recognition and on behalf of a broad range of issues of concern to Armenian Americans. Among his most notable efforts were his pioneering role in securing U.S. aid to Armenia following the 1988 earthquake and his 1990 campaign to win passage of a Senate Armenian Genocide resolution. Senator Dole is also widely respected for authoring and securing passage of the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act in response to Turkey’s blockade of U.S. humanitarian aid to Armenia. Senator Dole helped enact and later defended Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act in order to pressure Azerbaijan to lift its illegal blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Following his Presidential bid in 1996–he began his oversight of the Lincy Foundation’s approximately $165 million programs to assist the economic development of the Republic of Armenia.
ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian presented the Senator with the award – an abstract painting by noted Armenia-born artist Armen Yepoyan entitled "When the Sun Goes Down." Upon receipt of the award–Senator Dole commented–"I am especially moved because this recognition comes from a people who have suffered one of the greatest horrors of the 20th century and have triumphed under great adversity."
In his remarks at the observance–Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman–who ran as the Vice-Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket in November of last year–highlighted the close bond between Armenian Americans and himself–a Jewish American–as "survivors–if you will–of genocides of the past." He stressed the special obligation "in memory of–in faithfulness to those who perished–never to forget and never to let the world forget."
Commenting on the participation in the program by Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan–Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern U.S. and Canada–and other Armenian religious leaders including Father Raphael Andonian representing the Exarchate of the Armenian Catholic Church–Senator Lieberman noted that he is "so proud that the clergy are here today. Remember what ties us together is that we are all children of the same God and–as such–we are all entitled to what the Declaration of Independence says – the right to life–liberty and the pursuit of happiness–the same rights that those victims of the Armenian Genocide had taken away from them violently. So we commit ourselves as we go forward–remembering the past but committed to making sure not only that it does not happen again–but that we enhance those rights to life–liberty and the pursuit of happiness in our country and throughout the world."
The annual Armenian Genocide Observance on Capitol Hill–organized by the ANCA Eastern Region–Western Region and Washington DC offices–was held in the historic Senate Caucus Room. Co-sponsored by Senator Jack Reed and House Armenian Caucus Co-chairman Joe Knollenberg–the event was attended by a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives–including: Senators Joe Lieberman–Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)–Arlen Specter (R-PA)–and George Allen (R-VA)–and–from the House–Congressional Armenian Caucus Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ)–International Relations Middle East Subcommittee Chairman Ben Gilman (R-NY)–Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Representatives Xavier Becerra (D-CA)–Eric Cantor (R-VA)–Joseph Crowley (D-NY)–Barney Frank (D-MA)–Mike Honda (D-CA)–Steny Hoyer (D-MD)–Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)–Jim Langevin (D-RI)–Sander Levin (D-MI)–Michael McNulty (D-NY)–Connie Morella (R-MD)–Steven Rothman (D-NJ)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–Brad Sherman (D-CA)–and Mark Souder (R-IN).
Additional details about the remarks by Members of Congress and Armenian Ambassador Armand Kirakossian–as well as the participation of Nagorno Karabakh Republic Representative Vardan Barseghian and other dignitaries–including Armenia’s Justice Minister David Haratunian–will be forthcoming.