House Adjourns before Final Consideration Of Armenian Genocide Resolution

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WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives adjourned its session on December 22, leaving House Resolution 252, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, as part of its unfinished business.

In the waning days of the 111th Congress, after the renewed push for passage of the bill was made public, opposition mounted from the Turkish lobby and included a letter from Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to President Barack Obama warning of consequences should the resolution be brought to the floor. The letter follows a call from Obama to Erdogan earlier this month after information critical of the Turkish leadership was released by WikiLeaks.

After the House approved a bill to keep the government funded through March 4 of next year, some 100 Members headed home for Christmas and the holidays, further complicating the prospects for a vote. At the same time, Turkey was leveraging its influence on the Hill as it negotiated a possible multi- million dollar arms deal with an American defense firm.

“We applaud the tenacity of the resolution sponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff, and we also particularly commend the steadfast leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who along with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair and White House Liaison Congressman Chris Van Hollen provided guidance and invaluable assistance throughout this process,” stated Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

“There are also too many Members to credit here, but the key supporters included House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone, outgoing Caucus Co-Chair Mark Kirk, retiring Member George Radanovich, Rep. Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier, Rep. Brad Sherman, Rep. Edward Royce and the Armenian Caucus Members at large,” added Ardouny.

“On behalf of the Armenian Assembly’s State Chairs and activists across the country, the Assembly is grateful for the tremendous display of activism and the sustained grassroots effort as together we made our voices heard on Capitol Hill,” stated the Assembly’s Grassroots Director Taniel Koushakjian.

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Attention now turns to President Obama to fulfill his commitment to be “a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides.” Since President Obama has used the term Armenian Genocide, including Meds Yeghern, this Administration understands that coming to terms with the Armenian Genocide is also in Turkey’s interest in order to move forward, and does not want to be on the wrong side of history or human rights. As then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has stated: “Our common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.”

Schiff, the sponsor of the resolution, has indicated his intention to re-introduce the bill next Congress, which is scheduled to convene on January 5, 2011.

A letter from co-sponsors Frank Pallone Jr., Edward Royce, Adam Schiff, Jackie Speier and Brad Sherman, said, in part, “We are writing to urge your support of H.Res.252, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, a bipartisan resolution with over 140 cosponsors. This human rights legislation simply honors the victims of the Armenian Genocide, during which 1,500,000 men, women, and children were murdered by the Ottoman Empire primarily because of their Christian faith, and it properly pays tribute to the unprecedented American humanitarian response to this crime.

“The National Archives is filled with thousands of pages documenting the premeditated extermination of the Armenian people. Our own Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, recalled in his memoirs that the Turks “never had the slightest idea of reestablishing the Armenians in a new country” knowing that “the great majority of those would… either die of thirst and starvation, or be murdered by the wild Mohammedan desert tribes.”