WASHINGTON—Calls for President Barack Obama to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide and upon the Congressional leadership to schedule a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution took center stage, today, at the Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide Observance, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) leading more than 20 of their House colleagues at this remembrance calling for official U.S. condemnation and commemoration of this crime against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
The annual Armenian Genocide Observance, organized by the Congressional Armenian Caucus with the support of Armenian American organizations, was hosted by Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). Opening prayers were offered by Eastern Prelate Oshagan Choloyan and Archbishop Yeghishe Gezirian, representing the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America Eastern Region. Earlier in the day, Archbishop Choloyan had offered the opening prayer for the U.S. House earlier in the day. Remarks were also offered by Armenian Ambassador to the U.S., Tatoul Markarian, and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s representative in Washington, Robert Avetisyan.
In speech after speech, Members of Congress condemned Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and its ongoing campaign to pressure the international community into complicity in Ankara’s denial of this crime.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), a longtime supporter of Armenian Genocide recognition, stressed the remaining survivors of this crime challenge the conscience of America. She welcomed the passage of H.Res.252 by the Foreign Affairs Committee and called on her colleagues not to rest until the entire U.S. government properly recognizes this crime as a genocide. House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer (D-MD) offered moving comments about the core issues of conscience at stake in U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and called on his colleagues and all Americans to never stand as mere witnesses to genocide. Congressman Howard Berman, who, as Chairman, shepherded the Armenian Genocide Resolution through the Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke powerfully about the moral obligation that all Americans bear to both stand up against genocide and to oppose efforts to deny the reality of genocidal crimes. The lead author of H.Res.252, Adam Schiff (D-CA), spoke of his commitment to secure final adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution by both houses of Congress and the full recognition of this crime by both the U.S. government and, ultimately, the government of Turkey as well.
Two of the evening’s most compelling speeches were offered by the two Armenian Americans serving in the U.S. House, Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA). In her remarks, Rep. Speier spoke movingly about her mother’s legacy of love and her admonition to always remember and seek recognition for the Armenian Genocide.
Congresswoman Eshoo, in a speech devoted to the single Armenian Genocide survivor present, Yeretzgin Khoyan, and to the many Armenian American school children in attendance, spoke forcefully about her commitment to a truthful U.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide.
Among the many other notable speeches delivered at the program was the one given by New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman (D), who, in powerful remarks warmly welcomed by the hundreds in attendance, noted that he has consistently told Turkish leaders that Turkey-U.S. relations will suffer “until and unless they recognize the genocide and discuss compensation and reparations with Armenians.” New York Congressman Elliot Engel expressed frustration at the Turkish government’s efforts to characterize the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians as the result of a civil war, stating: “How dare they,” and pledging to continue his support for the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) took direct aim at those who perennially argue that “this is not the right time” to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution, noting that this excuse will always be around: “We will always hear that this is not the right time. I say we do it now!” Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), who, as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee helped ensure its adoption by this panel, offered a comprehensive review of Armenian Genocide recognition efforts and made a strong moral and practical case for its adoption by the full U.S. House.
Armenia’s Ambassador, Tatoul Markarian, in his address to the gathering, stressed that continued progress toward universal international recognition of the Armenian Genocide represented an important contribution to prospects for improved Turkey-Armenia relations. Similarly, the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh’s Representative, Robert Avetisyan, shared his government’s full support for U.S. and worldwide condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.
Among the Members of Congression joining Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone and Mark Kirk were Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), David Dreier (R-CA), Elliott Engel (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), George Miller (D-CA), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Ed Royce (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Jackie Speier (D-CA).
Complete coverage of the Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide Observance to be provided in the upcoming days.