Recognizing the Importance of Preventing Mass Atrocities on the Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

Floor Speech

By:  Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Date: April 27, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in somber recognition of the lives lost through heinous acts of violence against Armenian civilians following World War I. April 24th marked the symbolic recognition of a period in history when over 1 million Armenian people were killed.

Mr. Speaker, the atrocities committed during this period must never be forgotten. We cannot allow events such as these to be swept under the rug or we face the sad outcome of denying ourselves the ability to learn from the mistakes of our past. We must shape a brighter future for the global community. It is an absolute injustice to the Armenian people, as well as the global community, to refer to this atrocity as anything other than what it was: genocide. And the unfortunate truth is that the Armenian people are not the only ethnic group to be subjected to such an experience.

Mr. Speaker, this week we saw Charles Taylor brought to justice for his unspeakable crimes against humanity. After nine years in the International Criminal Court Charles Taylor was found guilty on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity today, including terror, murder, and rape and conscription of child soldiers. Taylor gave soldiers of the Revolutionary United Front arms in exchange for blood diamonds, giving them means to slaughter approximately 50,000 people in Sierra Leone. Yet, again, this is not an isolated incident in history.

Mr. Speaker: In Nazi Germany and Nazi occupied Europe approximately 6 million Jewish citizens were killed during World War II. In 1975 and through 1979 over 1.5 million were slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge in Vietnam. In the Rwandan Spring/Summer of 1994 over 800,000 Rwandans were killed in a span of about 100 days.

And today, as we speak, civilians are being massacred in the Darfur region of Sudan, with estimates saying over 300,000 have been killed to date.
Mr. Speaker, I believe we have allowed too many heinous crimes against humanity to occur and this must stop. It's past time that we take a stand against all types of discrimination and expose the wrongs of the past so that we may grow from them. In remembering the victims, the families torn apart, the orphans left behind, and the generations lost, we learn from the past, and ensure a future free of such violence.

I commend President Obama for establishing the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB). Comprised of experts from Universities and government agencies, the APB will assess our current capabilities, while developing new strategies to prevent genocide and mass atrocities. This is the first step of many to ensure a safe future for every human being, regardless of origin, race, culture, language, appearance or any other trait that makes each of us a unique member of the global community.

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