Democrat reads names of massacred Armenians from the House floor

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Wednesday took to the House floor to read the names of Armenians who were killed in a 1915 massacre by Ottoman Turkish forces.

Schiff performed the somber gesture in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the massacre, in which some 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives. He also published the names in a stream on his Twitter feed.

“To read all of the names of the more than 1.5 million people murdered at the time would take many weeks and weeks, and I hope that the recitation of the victims will help call attention to the magnitude of the crime,” Schiff said in a statement Wednesday.

“A name, unlike a number, is no abstraction — each was a son or daughter, a mother or father, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle; each was a precious life,” he added.


Schiff said Turkey’s actions during the killings marked an intentional “genocide” against Armenians. Turkey, a long-time U.S. ally, has vehemently denied it was pursuing a campaign of genocide in 1915.


“How long must the victims and their families wait before our nation has the courage to confront Turkey with the truth about the murderous past of the Ottoman Empire?” Schiff asked.


“If not this president, who spoke so eloquently and passionately about recognition in the past, whom?” he continued.


The Obama administration announced on Tuesday it would not call the 1915 slaughter “genocide,” despite President Obama’s promise during his first presidential campaign in 2008 he would address the mass killings with that label.


Schiff co-sponsored a congressional resolution that would designate the bloodshed an act of “genocide” late last month. The proposed legislation sparked a costly battle between Armenian and Turkish lobbyists.


President Obama is expected to deliver an address marking the centennial of the massacre on Friday. The White House is additionally sending Treasury Secretary Jack Lew as the head of a U.S. delegation to Armenia that same day.


Armenia and Turkey have longed clashed over how the international community remembers the 1915 mass killings.


Armenians have described the World War I-era bloodshed as genocide predating the Holocaust.


Turks, meanwhile, argue that the incident does constitute genocide. They charge that Ottoman military action against Armenians was not racially motivated.

Source: The Hill