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Public Statements

93rd Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

Location: Washington, DC

93RD COMMEMORATION OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE -- (Extensions of Remarks - April 24, 2008)


* Mr. PALLONE. Madam Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian genocide. As the first genocide of the 20th century, it is morally imperative that we remember this atrocity and collectively demand reaffirmation of this crime against humanity.

* In 1915, Henry Morgenthau, America's ambassador stationed in Istanbul described a ``systematic attempt to uproot peaceful Armenian populations.'' He warned Washington of the government's plan to ``crush the Armenian race.''

* After these warnings from Morgenthau, the U.S. Government took action and responded to the Armenian genocide. During a time when hundreds of thousands were left orphaned and starving, a time when a nation was on the verge of complete extermination, the United States took the lead and proudly helped end these atrocities. In fact, Americans helped launch an unprecedented U.S. diplomatic, political and humanitarian campaign to end the carnage and protect the survivors.

* Yet, 93 years later, the United States has not officially recognized the Armenian genocide. We owe it to the Armenian-American community, to the 1.5 million that were massacred in the genocide and to its own history--to reaffirm what is fact.

* Last October, the Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Armenian Genocide Resolution, giving full recognition to the genocide, but, since then, the bill has stalled due to the deep pocketed and well oiled Turkish lobby.

* By not recognizing the Armenian genocide for what it was, the government sponsored, systematic killing of a people, we fall prey to the Turkish government's threats. At the expense of truth, we buckle to Turkey out of geo-political convenience.

* Refusing to recognize the Armenian genocide only erodes our international reputation as human rights leaders. By remaining silent, we encourage Turkey to continue denial. While we look the other way, the Turkish government continues to prosecute those who speak out about the Armenian genocide in Turkey. This cannot continue. We must stop pandering to Turkish government.

* Fortunately, there are citizens of Turkey who refuse to deny the facts of the Armenian genocide. The Human Rights Association of Istanbul opposes the government muzzle. They recognize that state denial is the continuation of genocide, depriving the decedents of the Armenians the right to mourn their loved ones.

* We cannot let denial continue. By doing so, we show the international community that not only is genocide accepted, but that we are indifferent. Recognizing the Armenian genocide is crucial to helping end the cycle of genocide that has continued to plague civilization. If no one is held accountable, if America and the International community fail to act, then we allow these atrocities to continue.

* A large majority of our colleagues want to support this resolution. Members want to reaffirm the United States' record on the Armenian genocide. Unfortunately, the strong Turkish lobby is making it difficult for this House to take a firm stance for the truth.

* Recognizing the Armenian genocide will bring closure to a people and send the message that crimes against humanity cannot be silenced.

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