Armenian Caucus Co-Vice Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaking with Armenian National Institute Director Dr. Rouben Adalian

House and Senate Introduce Bills on Genocide Recognition as Members Commemorate on Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON —  The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) joined the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues this week for the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on Capitol Hill. Prior to the commemoration, bipartisan Armenian Genocide resolutions were introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

Spearheaded by Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), over 80 Members of Congress have already co-sponsored the House resolution, H.Res. 296, which was introduced on Monday.

“This resolution highlights a proud chapter in American history, where, thanks to America’s unprecedented humanitarian intervention, thousands and thousands of survivors of the Armenian Genocide were saved in what US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau described as a ‘campaign of race extermination’ and what Major General James G. Harbord – who served as General John J. Pershing’s Chief of Staff during World War I and led anAmerican Military Mission to Armenia – reported from the USS Martha Washington that: ‘Mutilation, violation, torture and death have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages,'” stated Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

The following day, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced with 14 co-sponsors a similar Senate resolution, S.Res. 150, which expresses “the sense of the Senate that it is the policy of the United States to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance.”

“This bipartisan resolution highlights a proud chapter in US history in providing humanitarian assistance and helping to save the survivors of the first genocide of the twentieth century,” stated Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “We commend Senators Menendez and Cruz for this important human rights initiative,” Ardouny said.

Elise Kenderian Aronson, Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Armenian Assembly Communications Director Danielle Saroyan Ashbahian

The importance of these resolutions were stressed during the commemoration, attended by Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Jackie Speier (D-CA); Caucus Vice Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA); and Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Costa (D-CA), TJ Cox (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Brad Sherman, Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), and Pete Visclosky (D-IN). Elise Kenderian Aronson presided over the standing-room only commemoration as the Mistress of Ceremonies.

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To watch the speeches of Representatives Pallone, Bilirakis, Speier, Schiff, Clark, Costa, Cox, Sherman, and Visclosky during the 2019 Congressional Armenian Genocide Commemoration, visit facebook.com/ArmenianAssembly

“I’m proud to join the Armenian Assembly of America in commemorating the Armenian Genocide, both in Washington and around the country, so that the memory of the 1.5 million lives lost will never be forgotten. We know from our own historical records about forced marches, about women and children being starved, and about how cultural and intellectual leaders were targeted first, proving the intent of the genocide was the removal of Armenian culture. Fortunately, they failed. But in order to make ‘Never Again’ a reality, not just a slogan, we must ensure what happened is not forgotten. It’s time the US government stand on the right side of history and officially acknowledge what we all know to be true: the Armenian Genocide happened, and nothing like it can ever happen again,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) said.

Armenian Assembly Communications Director Danielle Saroyan Ashbahian, Rep. Katherine Clark, and Armenian Assembly Massachusetts State Chair Herman Purutyan

“It is critical we acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and the horrors the Armenian people suffered at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. As an Armenian American, I am committed to ensuring we properly recognize these crimes against humanity and stand strong against any genocide denial,” Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) said to the Armenian Assembly.

In his remarks, Armenian Ambassador to the United States Varuzhan Nersesyan thanked the Armenian Caucus and all those who have supported and continue to support the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He stressed the importance of condemning one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century as an important step towards preventing future genocides.

Artsakh Representative to the US Robert Avetisyan thanked everyone for being part of this important commemoration, and quoted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who said: “Any oppression, any injustice, and any hatred is a wedge to destroy and attack our civilization.”

“Today is a day of memory. We mourn the loss of 1, 500,000 fallen compatriots. Armenians in the entire world misses tens of thousands of architects, doctors, composers, teachers, and clergy. The Armenian Genocide was indeed and remains a crime against the entire humanity. Today is a day of gratitude. Within so many nations, including the United States who were among the first to react and who saved countless lives by responding with diplomatic and humanitarian missions,” Avetisyan stated. “We are sincerely graceful for the Members of the US Congress and their staff for their respect, steadfast support for their fellow Americans of Armenian descent, and their continued efforts towards formal recognition of our tragedy. And I say this as an Artsakhtsi, whose fledging democratic home continues to develop under constant threats of another genocide,” he added.

Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Armenian Assembly Board Member Annie Simonian Totah

Additional remarks were given by former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans and Congressional Armenian Staffers Association Co-Chair Maria Martirosyan who is Congressman Jimmy Gomez’s (D-CA) Legislative Correspondent. Maryland State House Delegate Lorig Charkoudian was also in attendance for the commemoration, with her father Levon Charkoudian, who was Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Community Affairs under Governor Francis Sargent.

Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Vicar Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian gave the invocation, and Diocesan Legate of the Armenian Church of America Archbishop Vicken Aykazian provided the benediction.

 

 

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