PASADENA–Representatives of the Armenian National Committee-Western Region announced the launching of a nationwide postcard campaign calling on Congressional leaders to schedule a vote on legislation condemning genocides–at a press conference outside US Representative Adam Schiff’s district office.
House Resolution 193–introduced earlier in 2003 by Reps. Schiff (D-Glendale) and George Radanovich (R-Fresno)–calls on Congress to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocides. Similar legislation–Senate Resolution 164–was introduces on the Senate side. The house resolution has over 100 cosponsors and passed the full House Judiciary Committee on May–21–2003. It has yet to be scheduled for a vote by Congress. The newly launched postcard campaign calls on key leaders in Congress to schedule H.Res. 193 for a vote.
During a meeting in August of 2000–House Speaker Dennis Hastert pledged to Armenian-American community leaders to bring a resolution that addressed the Armenian Genocide to a vote on the floor. In October of the same year–minutes before a vote–the legislation was pulled from the House docket at the behest of then President Bill Clinton and Republican House leaders.
In addition to the traditional support from elected officials–the role of advocacy presently includes such notable public figures as Serj Tankian of the Grammy-nominated musical group–System of a Down. Reps. Radanovich and Schiff–along with Tankian–all firm supporters of efforts for recognition of the Armenian Genocide–have been key figures behind the campaign. In a letter addressed to his fans–Tankian urged advocates of human right to take a stand by sending in postcards and emails to Congress via the ANCA Web site. In 2002–the ANCA-WR awarded the prestigious Freedom Award to the members of System of a Down for their ongoing efforts to educate and raise public awareness about the Armenian Genocide. Reps. Radanovich and Schiff were recognized at the 2003 Annual Awards Banquet.
"The ANC and I share a common goal: to finally have the United States officially recognize the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenian men–women and children for what it was–genocide," said Rep. Schiff. "I join the ANC in support of this grassroots postcard campaign and urge everyone to write Speaker Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Frist to let them know how very important H.R. 193 is to human rights both here in the US and around the world."
Rep. Radanovich and Rep. Schiff have urged the public to unite and praised the ANCA’s postcard campaign.
"As Americans–we have an obligation to educate and familiarize the world on the Armenian Genocide. In fact–we must ensure that the legacy of the genocide is remembered–so that this human tragedy will not be repeated. I applaud this effort to pressure Congress to reaffirm their support of the Genocide Convention and to appropriately recognize the Armenian Genocide," stated Rep. Radanovich a written statement read at the press conference.
Both Representatives asked that the community to pay tribute to the memories of those who perished in the Armenian Genocide–working in concert to honor the courage of the survivors by passing the important bipartisan legislation.
"Representatives Schiff and Radanovich have always stood shoulder to shoulder with the Armenian National Committee regarding issues of concern to the Armenian-Americans and people of good conscious who seek an end to all genocides," said Ardashes Kassakhian–Executive Director of the ANC-WR. "In 2000–Rep. Radanovich led an uphill battle for the reaffirmation of the Genocide and since entering Congress–Rep. Schiff has been a proactive advocate of this issue." The postcard–which can be viewed on the ANCA Web site–displays graphic images of genocides throughout the 20th century–starting from the Armenian Genocide up to the genocides in Rwanda and in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The System of the Down Web site features a link to the ANCA Web site through which thousands of people from around the world are able to learn more about the legislation and the ANCA-WR’s efforts. The link was posted two weeks ago; close to 40,000 users have visited the Web site–since then.
The importance of the House and Senate Resolutions were discussed–highlighting the ANCA-WR’s longstanding dedication to forming coalitions with various organizations who have served as voices of oppressed minorities and have promoted the prevention of actions that arise from silenced oppression such as genocide–in a statement issued by the ANC-WR at the press conference. In addition–the ANC-WR emphasized the significant role the postcard campaign is playing in the effort to pass H.Res. 193 and S.Res. 164.
"We expect to flood the offices of Congress with the postcards to show Congressional leaders in Washington that the Armenian Genocide is not merely a piece of legislation that comes up on the floor once a year," said Kassakhian. "It is a chapter of world history that has gone unrecognized and has the potential to be repeated as seen in subsequent Genocides. By passing these resolutions we can assure future generations that our nation reaffirms its moral position to denounce crimes against humanity whenever and wherever they occur."