Bipartisan Drive for S.Res.399 Aims to End Turkey’s Gag Rule
WASHINGTON–Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced legislation S.Res.399 on March 20, calling upon the U.S. government to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide and to use the lessons of this atrocity to prevent future crimes against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“It is time for the United States to join the 19 nations including Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, and the European Union that have formally recognized the actions carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915-23 as genocide,” Sen. Menendez said. “The Armenian Genocide is a historical fact and was one of the incidents upon which the Genocide Convention was predicated. Only by accurately acknowledging the crimes of the past can we ever hope to move forward in a legitimate manner and prevent such human rights crimes from happening in the future.”
“The Armenian Genocide is well-documented and formally recognized by 11 NATO allies and the European Union. This resolution accurately characterizes the events of 1915-23 as a genocide, honors the memory of the victims, and strengthens America’s moral leadership on human rights and the prevention of mass atrocities around the world,” said a spokesman for Sen. Kirk.
Joining Menendez and Kirk as original co-sponsors of the bi-partisan measure were Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Human Rights and chairman of the Senate Environment Committee and Public Works Committee, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the vice-chairman of the Democratic Conference, also joined S.Res.399 as a co-sponsor.
“We join with Armenians from New Jersey, Illinois, and around the country in thanking Senators Menendez and Kirk for their many years of leadership in pressing for an end to Turkey’s gag-rule on American condemnation and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide,” said Aram Hamparian, the executive director of the ANCA. “Turkey has no right to hold America hostage to its willful refusal as a state to accept a truthful, just, and comprehensive resolution of this crime against all humanity.”
Parallel to this effort, Reps. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) have offered a nearly identical measure, H.Res.304, in the U.S. House. Senators Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Mark Kirk have introduced S.Res.392, the Senate version of a religious freedom measure that was adopted last December, in the U.S. House calling upon Turkey to return stolen Christian church properties to their rightful owners.
Turkey continues to prosecute writers for simply speaking about the Armenian Genocide, and threatens retaliation against countries around the world, including the United States and Armenia, that dare to honor the victims of this crime.
Armenian Americans and anti-genocide activists are urged to contact their Senators to co-sponsor and work for the adoption of this legislation.