Senate committee adopts Armenian Genocide resolution

Senate committee adopts Armenian Genocide resolution

Washington – For the first time in nearly a quarter century, a U.S. Senate committee today adopted an Armenian Genocide Resolution, calling upon the Senate to commemorate this crime and encouraging the President to ensure that America’s foreign policy reflects and reinforces the lessons, documented in the U.S. record, of the still-unpunished genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“Today’s vote affirms America’s commitment to truth, deals a serious setback to Turkey’s campaign of genocide denial, and sends a clear message to President Obama that he must end his Administration’s complicity in Ankara’s cover-up of this crime,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We thank Chairman Menendez for his powerful leadership and express our thanks to each of the Senators who cast their votes for this human rights measure.”

With a vote of 12 to 5, the Committee voted to condemn and commemorate the Armenian Genocide. Senators voting in favor included Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.). Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), as well as John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and James Risch (R-Id.), voted in opposition and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) skipped the vote.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) spearheaded the effort. He announced the vote at the Armenian Genocide Observance on Capitol Hill on April 9, where he told his colleagues and attendees, “To me, to all men and women of good will, I would think there is a simple statement – genocide is genocide, and you cannot call it anything else but that and you need to have a recognition of that. Next year when we mark a century – a hundred years ago that the Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turkey, it seems to me that with most of the survivors gone – but with a few left – it is incredibly important for us to lead globally at this time.”

Prior to the vote Sen. Menendez introduced two amendments to the original resolution, removing references to Turkey’s continued policy of denial of the genocide and hostility towards Armenia.

For its part, the Obama Administration did not openly oppose the resolution. Asked about the scheduled Committee vote earlier in the day, State Department’s spokesperson Jen Psaki responded that “our position has long been that we acknowledge – clearly acknowledge as historical fact and mourn the loss of 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. These horrific events resulted in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century, and the United States recognizes that they remain a great source of pain for the people of Armenia and of Armenian descent, as they do for all of us who share basic universal values. Beyond that, I don’t have any other comment for you.”

The following text was adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

113th CONGRESS

2d Session

  1. RES. 410

Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 3, 2014

Mr. Menendez (for himself and Mr. Kirk) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


 

RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Whereas the Armenian Genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915, resulting in the deportation of nearly 2,000,000 Armenians, as many as 1,500,000 men, women, and children being killed, 500,000 survivors being expelled from their homes, and the elimination of the over 2,500-year presence of Armenians in their historic homeland;

Whereas, on May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers of England, France, and Russia jointly issued a statement explicitly charging for the first time ever another government of committing crimes “against humanity and civilization”;

Whereas Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term “genocide”, and whose draft resolution for a genocide convention treaty became the framework for the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, recognized the Armenian Genocide as the type of crime the United Nations should prevent and punish through the setting of international standards;

Whereas Senate Concurrent Resolution 12, 64th Congress, agreed to February 9, 1916, resolved that the President of the United States be respectfully asked to designate a day on which the citizens of this country may give expression to their sympathy by contributing funds now being raised for the relief of the Armenians'', who at the time were enduringstarvation, disease, and untold suffering”.