A bipartisan group of 106 U.S. House Members today called on President Biden to “clearly and directly recognize the Armenian Genocide” in his upcoming April 24 statement, ending Turkey’s foreign gag-rule against honest U.S. remembrance of this crime, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“We thank Congressman Schiff, his colleagues in the leadership of the Armenian Caucus, and all those who co-signed this bipartisan call upon President Biden to end the longest lasting foreign gag-rule in American history,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “By joining with the U.S. Senate and House in condemning and commemorating the Armenian Genocide, the White House can, this week, mark the end of a shameful era of American complicity in Ankara’s denials – dealing a major setback to Turkey’s century-long obstruction of justice for this crime.”
“Looking ahead, U.S. recognition must inspire and inform U.S. policy challenging Turkey’s longstanding denials and confronting its ongoing anti-Armenian aggression,” added Hamparian.
Members of Congress co-signed a letter to President Biden spearheaded by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the Congressional Armenian Caucus leadership. The letter cites President Biden’s decades of efforts to reset U.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide. “We know that this is an issue you are well acquainted with from your time in the Senate and as Vice President, including shepherding S.J.Res. 212 (designating April 24, 1990, as a National Day of Remembrance of the 75th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide) through the Judiciary Committee in 1989. We also appreciate that as Vice President you attended the centenary anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 2015 at the National Cathedral. It was during the centennial that His Holiness Pope Francis at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica said this about the Armenian Genocide: “concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”
Upon sending the letter, Rep. Schiff explained, “During his candidacy, President Biden made a promise that he would officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, a promise in line with his decades of leadership on human rights issues. That’s why I joined with so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to urge him to keep that promise, and in doing so, right decades of wrongs. The word ‘genocide’ is significant because genocide is not a problem of the past – it is a problem of today. And by speaking the truth about this horrific period of history, refusing to be silent, and calling it a genocide, we can ensure that the United States is never again complicit.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Schiff took to the House floor to share a powerful open letter to President Biden.
Armenian Caucus Co-Chair David Valadao noted, “Formal recognition of the Armenian genocide is long overdue in the United States where so many Armenian-Americans continue to feel the pain of this tragedy,” said Congressman Valadao. “I urge President Biden to formally honor those affected by this atrocity and offer the Armenian-American community this validation they deserve.”
Joining Rep. Schiff and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA) in cosigning the Congressional letter to President Biden are Representatives: Colin Allred (D-TX), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Joaquín Castro (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Jim Costa (D-CA), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Jason Crow (D-CO), Danny Davis (D-IL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Lois Frankel (D-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Josh Harder (D-CA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), David Joyce (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Douglas Lamborn (R-CO), James Langevin (D-RI), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Mike Levin (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James McGovern (D-MA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Edwin Perlmutter (D-CO), Scott Peters (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), “Mary Gay, Scanlon (D-PA)”, Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Michelle Steel (R-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Susan Wild (D-PA).
The Congressional letter on the Armenian Genocide follows a similar bipartisan initiative earlier this month spearheaded by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and cosigned by 38 Senators calling on President Biden to follow the lead of Congress in fully and formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
The Senate letter cites President Biden’s April 2020 Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day statement, in which he pledged “to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide,” noting that, since “Congress has already made its position clear. It is time for executive branch to do so as well.” The letter closes with a powerful call for truth: “Administrations of both parties have been silent on the truth of the Armenian Genocide. We urge you to break this pattern of complicity by officially recognizing that the Armenian Genocide was genocide.”
The letter reads:
Dear Mr. President:
Later this month, on April 24, the world will mark the 106th anniversary of the first days of the
Armenian Genocide, the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire
from 1915 to 1923, and the displacement of many more. Yet for decades, while leaders around
the world recognize the first genocide of the 20th Century, the President of the United States has
remained silent. We join with the proud Armenian American community and all of those who
support truth and justice in asking that you clearly and directly recognize the Armenian Genocide
in your April 24 statement.
We know that this is an issue you are well acquainted with from your time in the Senate and as
Vice President, including shepherding S.J.Res. 212 (designating April 24, 1990, as a National
Day of Remembrance of the 75th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide) through the Judiciary
Committee in 1989. We also appreciate that as Vice President you attended the centenary
anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 2015 at the National Cathedral. It was during the
centennial that His Holiness Pope Francis at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica said this about the
Armenian Genocide: “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding
without bandaging it.”
The historic fact of what occurred a century ago is not in serious dispute. American diplomats of
the period documented the mass slaughter of the Armenians, though they had no word for what
they were witnessing. It was only decades later that Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide”
and did so specifically with the attempted extermination of the Armenian people in mind.
In accurately describing the Genocide this year, you will be joining both the House and Senate
which overwhelmingly passed resolutions doing so in 2019. Additionally, the Library of
Congress has already taken the important step of cataloging books on the subject under
historically accurate Armenian Genocide subject heading.
Mr. President, as you said last year in your April 24 statement, “Silence is complicity.” The
shameful silence of the United States Government on the historic fact of the Armenian Genocide
has gone on for too long, and it must end. We urge you to follow through on your commitments
and speak the truth.