By Taniel Koushakjian
As is routine in Armenian American politics, an Armenian Genocide resolution was introduced in the US House of Representatives at the beginning of the 114th Congress. Once again leading the charge are Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). Together, they introduced H. Res. 154, aka the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution, on March 18, 2015. This bill differs significantly from the bipartisan Armenian Genocide recognition resolution which passed committee in 2000, 2005, 2007, and 2010. As of this writing, H. Res. 154 boasts 62 cosponsors and has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Given the significance of 2015, the Turkish government ramped up its denial campaign in the United States and sought to introduce an opposing bill in Congress. In the weeks after the introduction of H. Res. 154, Rep. Curt Clawson (R-FL) circulated a letter to his House colleagues asking them to support a different resolution. Clawson’s bill, which planned to use language proposed by the newly-formed Turkish Institute for Progress (TIP), would use text from H. Res. 154, strike reference to the Armenian Genocide, and create a 100-year congressional task force aimed at bringing the Turkish and Armenian people together. “Unite us, not divide us,” a reference to the full-page advertisements that ran in The Washington Post and POLITICO, is political speak for Turkey’s latest genocide denial lobbying campaign.
Then, on April 28, 2015, H. Res. 226, a resolution calling on the President “to work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations,” was introduced by Pete Sessions (R-TX). Sessions’ bill not only omitted reference to the Armenian Genocide, it also left out the Turkish proposal for a joint taskforce. Pete Sessions is the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, which is commonly referred to as the “Speaker’s Committee.” H. Res. 226 currently has 2 cosponsors.
Clawson has yet to introduce his Turkish denial resolution.
For House Republican leadership this scenario played right into their hands. John Boehner has voiced his objection to a congressional resolution acknowledging the Armenian Genocide on more than one occasion and Rep. Clawson was one of 25 congressmen to vote against Boehner for the Speakership. What Speaker John Boehner has effectively done is introduce a bill, stripping the specific language for which each opposing lobby group was advocating, rendering the issue legislatively moot, and check his Tea Party foes in the process.
Armenian Assembly of America Presents Armenian Genocide Exhibit at Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida
Turkish Consulate in Miami Attempts to Block Discussion of Armenian Genocide
NAPLES, FL – On Sunday, April 12, Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Communications Director Taniel Koushakjian presented the ‘Iconic Images of the Armenian Genocide‘ exhibit at the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide which began on April 24, 1915.
With a capacity filled hall, Koushakjian discussed the systemic nature of the killings step by step, and presented the 20-panel exhibit highlighting details through the photographic evidence taken by eyewitnesses at the time, including American missionaries and German officers. The fourth in a series of digital exhibits released free of charge, ‘Iconic Images of the Armenian Genocide’ brings together as a single collection key images recording the brutal mistreatment of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Turkish Empire and the utter destruction of their historic communities.
In an outrageous move to impede a program on human rights education, the Turkish Consulate in Miami sent a letter trying to block discussion of the Armenian Genocide. “It is a disgrace that the Armenian diaspora chooses to identify itself with hatred of Turks, anti-Turkism in other words, as well as with outright dismissal of any chance of reconciliation and better relations between Turkey and Armenia,” wrote Ozgur Kivanc Altan, Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Miami in the letter addressed to the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida. “This is disturbing, yet not surprising, as the [Armenian] diaspora sought in recent years to hijack the Holocaust in an attempt to garner support for a distorted presentation of the events of 1915,” read the Turkish complaint.
“We deeply appreciate the Holocaust Museum’s leadership in continuing the program as planned and are confident that Taniel’s presentation was well received,” said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “Despite cynical attempts to silence the truth, the truth will prevail,” added Ardouny.
In addition to Sunday’s program, Koushakjian also gave a presentation of the Armenian Genocide on Saturday, April 11 for a group of a dozen educators from surrounding Collier, Hendry, Lee, and Monroe counties as part of a public teacher workshop on Holocaust and human rights education at the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida.
Additional photographs are available on the Assembly’s Facebook Page.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
NR: # 2015-023
Photo Caption 1: Armenian Assembly Communications Director Taniel Koushakjian speaking to the audience about the Armenian Genocide.
Please be advised that the Walk Against Genocide 2015 that was scheduled to take place today, Saturday, May 16th has been temporarily postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.
Any advance registration fees will be refunded in full.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Please watch for upcoming events over the summer and the rescheduling of the walkathon!