Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced a bipartisan House Resolution with Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL) recognizing and commemorating the Armenian Genocide in the House of Representatives. The resolution calls on the President and the U.S. Government to properly recognize and commemorate the atrocities that occurred in Armenia beginning in 1915, and which resulted in the death of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children, as genocide.
"The facts of history are clear, well documented and non-negotiable -- 1.5 million Armenians were deliberately murdered in the first genocide of the 20th century," Rep. Schiff said. "If we are to prevent future atrocities, we must condemn genocide whenever and wherever it occurs. It has never served our national interest to be complicit in another nation's campaign of genocide denial, and it never will. While there are still some survivors left, we have a compelling, urgent and moral obligation to speak plainly about the past."
It has been 96 years since the systematic and deliberate annihilation campaign was launched by the government of the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian population. While the Armenian Genocide has been recognized by more than 20 nations including Canada, Italy, Sweden, France, Argentina and Russia, as well as the European Parliament, it has not been formally recognized by the U.S. Congress in decades.
"The United States has a duty to remember those who have no voice," Rep. Dold said. "Ninety-six years ago 1.5 million people were killed simply because they were Armenian. I've personally heard stories from Armenian-Americans in my district who lost loved ones during the Armenian genocide. This appalling tragedy should not be ignored; rather, as a nation that fights for justice it is only fitting that the United States honestly recognize the Armenian Genocide and the victims so that together we can help prevent future genocides."
Bolstering his efforts to achieve justice and human rights in the region, Rep. Schiff has also joined in co-sponsoring a second resolution introduced today by Reps. Ed Royce and Howard Berman, calling on the government of Turkey to end religious discrimination, to cease all restrictions on gatherings for religious prayer and education, and to return stolen church property.
"By expropriating church properties, harassing worshippers, and refusing to grant full legal status to members of the Christian faith, the Republic of Turkey is violating its obligation to uphold basic freedoms that are the foundation of justice and peace worldwide," Rep. Schiff said.
The Republic of Turkey is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which requires "freedom of thought, conscience and religion." While Turkey considers itself a secular democracy, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has identified the Republic as one of the world's leading violators of religious freedom.
"Christians constitute less than 1 percent of Turkey's population, placing them in an especially vulnerable position," Rep. Schiff said. "This resolution will help to promote religious equality by shining a light on the unacceptable violations and intolerance of religious freedom in Turkey."