RIDGEFIELD, NJ—The Armenian National Committee of New Jersey (ANC-NJ) mourns the passing of veteran human rights advocate and perennial leader in Armenian Genocide affirmation efforts, Representative Donald Payne. Payne, 77, died of complications from colon cancer on March 6. He had served the Garden State’s 10th Congressional District for over two decades.
“We mourn the loss of a true advocate for the oppressed worldwide, who spared no effort to advance a U.S. foreign policy rooted in the principles of human rights and human dignity,” commented James Sahagian, ANC of New Jersey Chairman. “Representative Payne was always among the first to support Armenian Genocide legislation and consistently voted to end U.S. complicity in Turkey’s Genocide denial. He will be deeply missed by our community, and we hope his principled leadership will be the standard that his successor will strive toward.”
Congressman Payne was well known to the Armenian community for his tireless advocacy on human rights, including his consistent and outspoken support for countless bills and resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.
During the 2010 House Foreign Affairs Committee consideration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res. 252), Rep. Payne was eloquent in his remarks defending the measure:
“Let me say that I have consistently strongly supported the recognition that genocide occurred, and I certainly strongly support H. Res. 252, the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution… Dr. King used to say that the arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice, and the fact that no lie can live forever when he wrote his letters from the Birmingham Jail. And so I think that it is important that we recognize the truth. The truth crushed to earth will rise again, as has been said.”
As former Chairman and, most recently, Ranking Democrat of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, Rep. Payne championed Congressional efforts to stop the genocide in Darfur. He led many delegations to the war-torn region and advanced Congressional legislation calling for much needed aid for victims and a tough U.S. policy against genocide perpetrator Omer al-Bashir. Over the ANC-NJ joined with chapters across the U.S. in standing with Rep. Payne in helping end the cycle of genocide.