Blog Archives

How John Boehner Checked Two Opposing Lobby Groups, and the Tea Party, With One Bill

boehner_ap_328

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) / AP Photo

 

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Editor

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

TK HMSWFL

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.

Armenian Assembly of America Hosts Armenian Genocide Symposium in South Florida

AAA FL AG Symp Group

On Saturday, March 14, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) hosted an Armenian Genocide symposium entitled “A Century of Genocide: The 1915 Armenian Genocide and Its Lasting Impact,” during the Assembly’s Annual Members Weekend in South Florida. Over 80 Assembly members, friends, and guests attended the educational presentations and lively question and answer session.

The symposium featured Dr. Rouben Adalian, Director of the Armenian National Institute (ANI) in Washington, DC, Dr. Rosanna Gatens, Director of the Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education (CHHRE) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton, Florida, and Hannibal Travis, Professor of Law at Florida International University (FIU) College of Law in Miami, Florida. The panel was moderated by Assembly Trustee and South Florida community leader Marta Batmasian.

Armenian Assembly of America Board of Trustees President Carolyn Mugar provided welcoming remarks and introduced Marta Batmasian. Batmasian introduced the panel to the audience and recognized members of the audience who have been researching and teaching about the Armenian Genocide in South Florida.

Batmasian introduced Dr. Adalian who presented the topic of “The Armenian Genocide as a Prototype of 20th Century Mass Killings,” detailing the primitive yet effective template of mass killing that was developed by the Ottoman Turkish government. He showed images from the digital exhibit “The First Deportation: The German Railway, the American Hospital, and the Armenian Genocide,” which took the audience back in time to a pivotal location of the deportations. Adalian brought to life the experiences and activities of Dr. Wilfred D. Post who administered the American hospital in Konya, a major station along the Berlin-Baghdad rail line which became the site of a large deportation camp. In defiance of the Ottoman ban on photography of deportees, Dr. Post captured what may have been some of the earliest pictures of deported Armenians.

AAA FL Symposium C1

Next, Batmasian introduced Dr. Gatens who discussed “The Impact of the Armenian Genocide on Holocaust Education.” She discussed how the CHHRE at FAU had been working for years to advance Armenian Genocide education on campus and throughout Palm Beach County. Gatens drew parallels between the Jewish and Armenian experiences and highlighted challenges faced in educating the general public about the crime of genocide.

Professor Hannibal Travis gave the final presentation on “The Armenian Genocide as a Political Act and International Crime.” He discussed the illegality of the crime of genocide under international law, including cases where the charge of genocide was applied retroactively. Travis gave an in depth account of crimes against humanity that have been heard in international courts and discussed avenues for Armenian efforts in this context.

Following the presentations, Batmasian opened the floor for questions. Several were asked of the panel leading to a lively and wide-ranging discussion. Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny gave closing remarks and announced the launch of an online petition calling on President Barack Obama to affirm the Armenian Genocide in his upcoming statement commemorating the 100th anniversary. After the symposium, guests were invited up to view a brand new exhibit entitled “Iconic Images of the Armenian Genocide,” that was on full display during and after the discussion.

“We were pleased to bring this expert panel together for the South Florida community,” stated Bryan Ardouny. “The Assembly is grateful to Dr. Adalian, Dr. Gatens, Professor Travis, and Mrs. Batmasian for their insight and compelling presentations,” Ardouny said.

Additional photographs from the Assembly’s Armenian Genocide Symposium in South Florida are available on the Assembly’s Facebook page here.

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: # 2015-018

Photo Caption 1: (L-R) Dr. Rouben Adalian, Marta Batmasian, Hannibal Travis, Dr. Rosanna Gatens.

Photo Caption 2: Program speakers at the Assembly’s Armenian Genocide Symposium in South Florida.

(Photographs by Bedo Der-Bedrosian on behalf of the Armenian Assembly of America)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 597 other followers

%d bloggers like this: