House votes to recognize Armenian genocide

The House passed a resolution on Tuesday officially recognizing and rebuking the Ottoman Empire’s genocide against the Armenian people and rejecting any efforts to enlist the U.S. government in denying that the genocide took place.

Proponents of the long-delayed measure, which passed in a 405-11 vote, argue that it’s a necessary and overdue step in providing justice for Armenians. Three lawmakers voted present.

The resolution was introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a vice chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus.

{mosads}“Many American politicians, diplomats and institutions have rightly recognized these atrocities as a genocide, including America’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time, Henry Morgenthau, and Ronald Reagan,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.

“Only by shining a light on the darkest parts of our history can we learn not to repeat them and properly acknowledging what occurred is a necessary step in achieving some measure of justice for the victims,” he added.

The bill emphasizes the position of the House that U.S. policy will “(1) commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance; (2) reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States Government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide; and (3) encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the United States role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.”

“Genocides, whenever and wherever they occur, cannot be ignored, whether they took place in the 20th century by the Ottoman Turks or mid-20th century by the Third Reich and in Darfur,” Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), a co-chair of the Armenian Caucus who helped lead the efforts on the measure, said on the House floor.

The resolution comes amid U.S. tensions with Turkey following Ankara’s military incursion into northern Syria after the Trump administration pulled troops from the area earlier this month. Turkey does not recognize the murder of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide.

Bilirakis said it is time Congress addresses the injustices committed by the Ottoman Empire, saying he believes Turkey’s “current actions against our Kurdish allies is extremely concerning and we cannot stand by and let egregious human rights violations happen.”

“Today we end a century of international silence that will not be another period of indifference or international ignorance to the lives lost to systematic murder,” he said.

The House later passed a bill to place additional sanctions on Turkey on Tuesday in the wake of their incursion against U.S.-allied Kurdish troops.