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April 24, 2023

Rep. Schiff Releases Statement on 108th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide

Burbank, CA  – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) released the following statement marking the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide:

“Mardiros Deovletian, Shooshan Hounanian, Azniv Totigian, Mariam Minasian, Hadji Martiros Temelian, Armenouhi Toutikian. These names represent a few, but a precious few, of the more than 1.5 million men, women, and children who lost their lives in the first genocide of the 20th century.

One hundred and eight years ago, the Ottoman Empire began a systematic effort to destroy the Armenian people. Teachers, writers, businessmen, and doctors were rounded up and killed, clergy were tortured and burned alive in churches, infants were ripped from their mothers’ arms, sons and daughters witnessed their fathers being murdered, and children died gasping for a drop of water. Many Armenians were killed outright, and others, including the Father of Armenian Music, Gomidas Vartabed, suffered emotional trauma after witnessing the sheer magnitude of the massacres.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of this methodical mass killing, Turkey has long engaged in a campaign to deny the genocide and to silence those who would speak the truth.

But the United States will no longer be silenced. In 2019, for the first time in history, the U.S. House passed my resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide by a near unanimous and bipartisan margin. The Senate too passed a resolution affirming the facts of the Armenian Genocide. And in 2021, President Joe Biden finally cast aside decades of shameful silence by our nation to become the first sitting U.S. president to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.

These historic achievements happened because of a resilient and enduring Armenian diaspora. It’s a testament to the unwavering efforts of thousands of activists, organizations, communities, and church leaders. It’s a victory for human rights, and for truth itself, and it’s something we achieved together.

But we know there remains work to do. Our thoughts and our hearts are with Armenia and Artsakh, because the Armenian people are still under duress and attack, and have suffered the losses of many who died in Artsakh, the thousands who were forced to flee from the unprovoked aggression by Azerbaijan and Turkey, and those who remain prisoners of war. Azerbaijan’s unprovoked assaults on sovereign Armenian territory and the brutal blockade of Artsakh risk another genocide. We have seen this before, and we must not allow it to happen again. 

These are the horrific consequences when aggression and hatred grow unchecked and when Aliyev’s hostility is met with deafening silence, emboldening him to continue, and expand, his unprovoked attacks on the Armenian people. This is why Azerbaijan is emboldened to believe it can annihilate Armenians in their historical homeland. We cannot allow violence and crimes against humanity to go unanswered, whether they occurred one hundred and eight years ago or as recently as this year or even this month.

The United States must impose sanctions on Azerbaijan, and U.S. support for the warmongers in Baku must stop. The United States must continue to pressure Aliyev to immediately reopen the Lachin Corridor, direct U.S. humanitarian assistance to Artsakh, call for the safe and unconditional release of the remaining Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians, hold Azerbaijan accountable for the destruction of religious and cultural sites, and support democracy in Armenia and a free, independent Artsakh.

On this solemn anniversary, as we pause to remember the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide, we also reflect on the resilience of those who survived, and the perseverance of their children and grandchildren, who built new lives in the United States, speak the beautiful Armenian language, and enrich our nation with the Armenian culture and heritage. Despite the trials the Armenian people have faced and continue to face, it has not broken their faith, determination, or their will to survive. They have overcome the harshest of trials and tribulations, and yet, they remain strong and unbowed, here in Los Angeles, in Yerevan, in Artsakh and around the world.”