WASHINGTON–DC (ANCA)–Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)–an influential member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading proponent of US action to stop the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan–called on President Bush to properly recognize the Armenian genocide as a "genocide" in his April 24 commen’s.
In the years since his election in 1996–Senator Brownback has not been a traditional supporter of Armenian genocide recognition initiatives or other issues of special concern to Armenian Americans. He came to prominence in the Armenian American community in the 1990s as the leading opponent of Section 907–a provision of US law that restricts aid to Azerbaijan due to its illegal blockades of Armenia and Karabagh.
Answering questions last week on C-SPAN’s Morning Journal–a popular cable television call-in program about the Darfur genocide–the Senator responded to a question from Armenian National Committee-Fresno activist Richard Sanikian about his opposition to legislation about the Armenian genocide. Sanikian specifically noted that he was "very curious why–for a number of years–[Senator Brownback] has always opposed Armenian Genocide [recognition] year after year." Noting that the Senator’s conduct was "very disturbing," he said he "hopes he has a change of heart?since he is talking about morality and humanitarian issues now I hope that this coming April 24 he moves into that direction because we have a lot of Armenia’s Americans in the United States–we’re tax payers–we work hard in this country and we want our senators…and we want you to join the rest of the senators and move this issue forward."
In his response–Senator Brownback said he "appreciate[d] the question," and clarified that–"I do not oppose recognition that the Armenian Genocide that took place." He added that past genocides "should be recognized for what they are?when people are killed in mass numbers and tried to be wiped out and many were killed in what took place?I am not opposed whatsoever to recognizing the genocide that took place in Armenia–but we do need to do what we can to grow those areas–to get democracy to take root in the region–which is starting to?[in] Georgia–Kyrgzstan?we need it to many of the areas as well."
"We welcome the support of Senator Brownback for US recognition of the Armenian Genocide–and join with him in working to strengthen the American response to the genocide taking place in the Darfur region Sudan," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Armenian Americans–victims of the first genocide of the 20th century–deeply appreciate his leadership–along with Senator Jon Corzine–on the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act."
Sen. Brownback joined this week with over 30 of his Senate colleagues in cosigning a Congressional letter to President Bush urging him to honor his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide. A similar letter in the House of Representatives has garnered over 175 signatures.
To watch the interview on the C-SPAN archive–visit the C-SPAN website and fast forward roughly 25 minutes into the broadcast.