Recognizing Armenian Genocide Would Be a Victory for Human Rights (Rep. Ed Royce)
As a cosponsor of the Resolution and a long time advocate for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, I believe this vote is a victory for human rights and accountability.
I am a co-sponsor of this resolution and I have worked on this issue since I was a State Senator in California, where I authored a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the first by any such state. I’m old enough to have known a few of the survivors, while they were still alive. My resolution passed in California a generation ago. President Reagan spoke out about the Armenian Genocide long ago as President. Now it’s time for Congress to take action.
This resolution focuses singularly on the United States’ record of the Armenian Genocide. As the Genocide was being committed, the U.S launched a diplomatic, political and humanitarian campaign to end the carnage. We should be proud of that effort. Yet, to this day — for a variety of reasons — we fail to recognize the events that began ninety years ago for what they are: Genocide.
Opponents ask “why now?” They warn of dire actions Turkey will take against the United States if this resolution passes. Yet, it is important that this Committee doesn’t lose sight of what is right and wrong — and speak out about the wrongs in the world. While the Armenian Genocide was the first of the 20th century, the blind eye cast on the slaughter of Armenians was a point used by Hitler, who asked his joint chiefs-of-staff, “Who…speaks today of the [their] annihilation?”
Today, those words could just have easily been used by the culpable leaders of the Khartoum government who continue their genocide in Darfur. The lesson of genocide is an argument I first heard from my father who served with General Patton’s 3rd Army and later the 7th when they cut through Germany and finally liberated the concentration camps at Dachau. He had his brother’s camera and documented on film the ovens with bodies stacked like cord wood, the rail cars and trenches filled with the dead in the holocaust. Still, he finds the need to use those photographs when he confronts those who deny that genocide.
History is a continuum that affects today and tomorrow. It’s much harder to get tomorrow right if we get yesterday wrong. The world’s strength to oppose killing today is made greater by accountability, for actions present, but also past. It’s weakened by denial of accountability of past acts. Not recognizing the Armenian Genocide as such does just that.
For the sake of genocides past and present, I urge the passage of this bipartisan resolution. 1.5 million Armenians were murdered, 500,000 were removed from their homeland. Passing this resolution will be a victory for human rights.