WASHINGTON–DC–Within weeks of its introduction–twelve US Senators have already joined with Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) in supporting the Senate version of the Armenian Genocide Resolution–SR 320.
"We are gratified to see the growing support for the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the Senate–and appreciate the leadership of Senators Ensign and Durbin on this human rights initiative," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America. "We look forward to working with local communities across the country in building additional support for this measure and bringing it to a favorable vote on the Senate floor."
Senator Ensign is the Vice Chairman of the Republican Steering Committee–the group that shapes the Senate Republican legislative agenda. Senator Durbin is the Democratic Whip–the second most senior position among Senate Democrats. Additional cosponsors include:
George Allen (R-VA) – The Chairman of the Foreign Relation Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs–and a potential Presidential candidate in 2008.
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) – Ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) – The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
Russell Feingold (D-WI) – The Ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa.
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) – Ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism–Technology and Homeland Security.
John Kerry (D-MA) – Ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs–as well as a past (2004) and potential future (2008) Presidential candidate.
Herb Kohl (D-WI) – A senior member of the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce–Justice and State–the panel that allocates funding for the State Department.
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) – A member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) – A member of the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Foreign Operations–the panel that allocates US foreign aid.
Jack Reed (D-RI) – The Ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
Olympia Snowe (R-ME) – Chairwoman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
John Sununu (R-NH) – Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on International Operations and Terrorism.
Senator Chafee is a first-time supporter of Armenian genocide legislation. Since he first joined the Senate in 1999–ANC of Rhode Island activists have met with Senator Chafee numerous times–both in Rhode Island and in Washington–DC–urging him to support legislation reaffirming the Armenian genocide and a strong US-Armenia bilateral relationship. ANC of Rhode Island activists–including Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian–most recently met with the Senator on April 20th of this year. At this meeting the Senator pledged support for future Armenian genocide legislative initiatives.
On April 25–in a Senate floor statement–Senator Chafee marked the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide–noting: "The term ‘genocide’ did not even exist when these atrocities occurred from 1915 to 1923–yet the numbers are staggering. Over 1.5 million people perished. Over 500,000 people were forcibly removed from their homes and their homeland. Armenian religious–political–and intellectual leaders were killed. Men were removed from their families and women and children were left vulnerable to deportation–kidnapping–and starvation–and 132,000 Armenian orphans became foster children in American families."
The Senate measure is similar to a resolution–HR 316–introduced this June in the US House by Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI). This measure has 145 cosponsors and was overwhelmingly adopted–along with a second Armenian genocide Resolution–HCR 195–by the International Relations Committee on September 15.
The resolution calls on the President "to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights–ethnic cleansing–and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian genocide." The resolution includes thirty detailed findings from past US hearings–resolutions–and Presidential statemen’s on the Armenian genocide from 1916 through the present–as well as references to statemen’s by international bodies and organizations.
The Senate resolution has been referred to the Foreign Relations Committee for consideration.