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April 08, 2019

Schiff, Bilirakis Introduce Bipartisan Resolution to Recognize Armenian Genocide

Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff (CA-28) and Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) introduced legislation to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The Resolution recognizes the genocide against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire, rejects efforts to enlist the U.S. Government in denial of genocide, and encourages education about the Armenian Genocide, as well as the unprecedented relief efforts undertaken by the United States in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide.

"Over 100 years ago, the Ottoman Empire undertook a brutal campaign of murder, rape, and displacement against the Armenian people that took the lives of 1.5 million men, women, and children in the first genocide of the 20th century," said Rep. Schiff. "Genocide is not a relic of the past, but an ever present threat. Its denial is not only a continuing injury to the survivors, but makes its repetition against another people more likely. It is therefore all the more pressing that the Congress recognize the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide and make clear that we will never be an accomplice to denial." 

“Genocide must not be denied. It must be acknowledged for what it is—a scourge on humanity. Official recognition of the Armenian Genocide would represent a courageous new chapter in American foreign policy. With the bold leadership of the current Administration, it is time for the United States to take a stand against Turkish genocide denial,” said Rep. Bilirakis.

“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 U.S. 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 an American Military Mission to Armenia - reported from the USS Martha Washington that the ‘[m]utilation, 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.

“All who oppose genocide welcome today’s launch of legislation locking in U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide and – once and for all - locking out Turkish denials of this crime,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.  “This bipartisan measure – spearheaded by Representatives Adam Schiff and Gus Bilirakis – also permanently locks down – as official U.S. policy – that future generations should be educated about the facts of this crime, America’s noble relief efforts for its victims, and – most urgently – the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.”

Representatives Adam Schiff and Gus Bilirakis were also joined by the other leaders of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, Representatives Frank Pallone, Peter King and Jackie Speier in underscoring their support for the recognition of the Armenian genocide. A bipartisan group of more than 70 Members joined as original cosponsors of the resolution.

The full text of the resolution is below:

Whereas the United States has a proud history of recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide, the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 and providing relief to the survivors of the campaign of genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians.

Whereas the Honorable Henry Morgenthau, United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916, organized and led protests by officials of many countries against what he described as its “a campaign of race extermination,” and was instructed on July 16, 1915, by United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing that the “Department approves your procedure … to stop Armenian persecution.”

Whereas President Woodrow Wilson encouraged the formation of the Near East Relief, chartered by an Act of Congress, which raised $116,000,000 (over $2,500,000,000 in 2019 dollars) between 1915 and 1930, and the Senate adopted resolutions condemning these massacres.A

Whereas Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term “genocide” in 1944, and who was the earliest proponent of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, invoked the Armenian case as a definitive example of genocide in the 20th century.

Whereas as displayed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Adolf Hitler, on ordering his military commanders to attack Poland without provocation in 1939, dismissed objections by saying “[w]ho, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”, setting the stage for the Holocaust;

Whereas the United States has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide, through the United States Government’s May 28, 1951 written statement to the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, through President Ronald Reagan’s Proclamation No. 4838 on April 22, 1981, and by House Joint Resolution 148, adopted on April 8, 1975, and House Joint Resolution 247, adopted on September 10, 1984;

Whereas the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (Public Law 115-441) establishes that atrocities prevention represents a U.S. national interest, and affirms that it is the policy of the United States to pursue a United States Government-wide strategy to identify, prevent, and respond to the risk of atrocities by “strengthening diplomatic response and the effective use of foreign assistance to support appropriate transitional justice measures, including criminal accountability, for past atrocities.”

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that it is the policy of the United States to:

  1. commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance;
  2. reject efforts to elist, engage, or otherwise associate the U.S. government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide;
  3. encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the U.S. role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern day crimes against humanity.