Joined: 25 Oct 2003
| Posted: Sat Nov 15, 2003 5:04 pm Post subject: [E] Congressional bill recognizing the Armenian genocide
|GLENDALE | May 23, 2003
A new page in American-Turkish relations or a true step on the way of the definitive recognition? Congressional bill recognizing the Armenian genocide of 1915
A congressional bill that could lead to official federal recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 passed a key House of Representatives committee Wednesday and is headed for the House floor.
The 36-member House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the resolution, introduced April 9 by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Glendale) and George Radanovich (R-Fresno). The resolution asks Congress to reaffirm support for the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In the wake of the Holocaust, nations approved the convention, which affirms that genocide is an international crime.
This year, the bill was redrafted to include the Armenian Genocide among 20th-century examples of what falls under the convention. And it was withdrawn from its traditional burial ground — the House International Relations Committee.
Schiff took over leading the effort for recognition from retired Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.). For years, lobbies and legislators have been unsuccessful in getting the U.S. government to officially recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman-Turkish Empire
beginning in 1915.
"I was delighted the ball has moved so quickly and soon after the resolution was introduced," said Schiff, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee.
About 80,000 people of Armenian descent live in Glendale.
The Armenian National Committee was pleased with the bill's progression.
"We were very gratified," said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee. "And we were very pleased to see [the committee's] strong support for the measure. The genocide is a fact. We're concerned that the lessons of that experience help prevent future genocides."
Hamparian said that an awareness of the Turkish refusal to allow U.S. forces to open a northern front in Turkey during the war in Iraq might be looming in legislators' minds.
Turkish officials disagree that the genocide is a historical fact.
"The Turkish Embassy and Turkish government believe that [the convention] is being used for another purpose," said Tuluy Tanc, minister counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.
That purpose, Tanc said, was to make the Armenian Genocide a historical fact by slipping it into wording of the resolution.
"We do not think this is justified," he said, adding that the Bush administration, through the State Department, has conveyed to Turkish officials it opposes this effort.
In 2000, a bill made it to the floor for a vote but was killed at the last moment.
Schiff said the next step is the House floor.
"That's where the big battle is," he said.