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U.S. House of Representatives to Hold Floor Vote on Armenian Genocide Resolution Today

WASHINGTON, DC – For the first time in more than 30 years, this week the U.S. House of Representatives is set to hold an up-or-down vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H. Res. 296), a bipartisan measure locking in U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century. If adopted, this resolution would strike a powerful blow against the gag-rule Turkey has long enforced against genuine American remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.

Following Rules Committee passage yesterday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that the H. Res. 296 would be on the House docket on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, setting up a potential vote as early as this afternoon.

“We applaud the action taken by the Rules Committee led by Chairman James McGovern (D-MA), the remarks by Committee Member Donna Shalala (D-FL) and the powerful testimony by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) along with Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA),” stated Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. Yesterday’s “adoption of the rule for H.Res. 296 sets the stage for a historic vote on the House floor,” he said.

ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian called the resolution a “signal” to Turkey “that Washington won’t be bullied, U.S. policy can’t be hijacked, and American principles are not for sale.”

In addition to Armenian American organizations, major Greek American and Assyrian organizations are supporting the measure as they have since the beginning, one of the largest Christian groups in the U.S. the National Council of Churches, and once again Jewish American leaders from the Anti Defamation League and American Jewish Committee have strongly endorsed U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

“The Armenian community of Florida is uniquely positioned to play a decisive role in passage of H. Res. 296, the Armenian Genocide Resolution in 2019,” stated FLArmenians.com Editor Taniel Koushakjian. “Florida is now the third largest state in the U.S., the home of the Winter White House, and boasts one of the fastest growing Armenian communities in America. Let’s all make our voices heard today. Get on social media, send an email to your friends, and pick up your phone and dial your Congressman today!”

Call Your Representative’s DC Office This Morning –– Vote Could Happen This Afternoon

Yes, it’s it’s really happening. The U.S. House of Representative, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), is set to vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution as early as this afternoon. It has over 140 cosponsors.

Here is a list of Florida’s Congressional delegation and their DC office phone numbers. If you don’t know who your Congressman is, click here to find out. We’ve also written a sample phone script for you, just scroll down.

Seven (7) of Florida’s 27 Members of Congress are cosponsors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, they are in bold. Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Charlie Crist (D-FL) just signed on this morning –– joining original cosponsors Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ross Spano (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), and Donna Shalala (D-FL) –– indicating they are likely to vote in favor of the resolution.

Call your Congressman/woman and ask them to VOTE YES on H. RES. 296. If he/she is a cosponsor, be sure to thank him/her for their cosponsorship!

North Florida

Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1): (202) 225-4136
Neal Dunn (R-FL-2) (202) 225-5235
Ted Yoho (R-FL-3): (202) 225-5744
John Rutherford (R-FL-4): (202) 225-2501
Al Lawson (D-FL-5): (202) 225-0123
Michael Waltz (R-FL-6): (202) 225-2706

Central Florida

Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-7): (202) 225-4035
Bill Posey (D-FL-8): (202) 225-3671
Darren Soto (D-FL-9): (202) 225-9889
Val Demings (D-FL-10): (202) 225-2176
Daniel Webster(R-FL-11): (202) 225-1002
Ross Spanno (R-FL-15): (202) 225-1252

West Coast Florida

Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12): (202) 225-5755
Charlie Crist (D-FL-13): (202) 225-5961
Kathy Castor (D-FL-14): (202) 225-3376
Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16): (202) 225-5015
Greg Steube (R-FL-17): (202) 225-5792
Francis Rooney (R-FL-19): (202) 225-2536

South Florida

Brian Mast (R-FL-18): (202) 225-3026
Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20): (202) 225-1313
Lois Frankel (D-FL-21): (202) 225-9890
Ted Deutch (D-FL-22): (202) 225-3001
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL-23): (202) 225-7931
Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24): (202) 225-4506
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25): (202) 225-4211
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL-26): (202) 225-2778
Donna Shalala (D-FL-27): (202) 225-3931

Sample Phone Script

Hello, my name is (Your Name) and I am calling from (Your City).

H.Res.296, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, is coming up for a vote on the House floor this week and when it does I urge you to VOTE YES.

It’s about time America spoke honestly about the Armenian Genocide. The world knows the truth. 49 U.S. States including Florida acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. This vote is important for many reasons. Do the right thing and vote YES when it comes up for a floor vote.

My family, friends and the local community will be watching this vote on C-SPAN and I look forward to seeing you cast your YES vote on this measure.

Thank you.

Don’t have time to make a call? Click here to send a pre-written email to your Representative. All you have to do is click here, enter your address, and click twice.

After you take action, forward this email to 3 friends, coworkers, or family members and tell them why it’s important to you!

If you use social media today, be sure to use the hashtags #ArmenianGenocide and #FLArmenians.

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Bilirakis, Schiff Rally Support for Sustained U.S. Policy of Official Armenian Genocide Recognition

Community-Backed Bipartisan Resolution Affirms that the United States Rejects Efforts to Associate the U.S. Government with Armenian Genocide Denial

WASHINGTON, DC — Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) are calling on their House colleagues to join them in introducing an Armenian Genocide recognition resolution, bipartisan legislation aimed at establishing, as a matter of U.S. policy, 1) the rejection of Armenian Genocide denial, 2) ongoing official U.S. government recognition and remembrance of this crime, and 3) the importance of Armenian Genocide education in preventing modern-day atrocities.

The resolution’s authors are currently collecting original cosponsors for the legislation and are expected to introduce the bill in April.

“Genocide must not be denied. It must be acknowledged for what it is—a scourge on humanity,” Congressman Bilirakis told FLARMENIANS.com. “Official recognition of the Armenian Genocide would represent a courageous new chapter in American foreign policy. With the bold leadership of the current Administration, it is time for the United States to take a stand against Turkish genocide denial,” stated Bilirakis.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to U.S. Representatives by Congressmen Schiff and Bilirakis, they asked their House colleagues to “join us as a cosponsor of a resolution affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide, which recognizes and memorializes the historical fact of the Ottoman Empire’s genocidal campaign against the Armenian people, as well as the Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and other religious minorities, from 1915 to 1923.” The letter acknowledges the life-saving U.S. humanitarian efforts during the Armenian Genocide, reminding colleagues that “Congress passed first of its kind legislation to establish the Near East Relief effort which provided millions of dollars in food and aid to survivors, including tens of thousands of orphans.”

Congressmen Bilirakis and Schiff took on Ankara’s anticipated opposition to an honest U.S. remembrance of the Armenian Genocide head-on, writing: “Let us be direct. Genocide recognition is opposed by a single entity: The government of Turkey. For decades, Turkey has deployed threats and an intense campaign of lobbying to intimidate the Congress from recognizing the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire.” They went on to argue that: “Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide is also a source of continued regional tension, undermining the foundations of a durable peace that would be in the best interests of the United States and our national security. Official recognition of the Armenian Genocide can help open a new chapter in United States foreign policy. It is time for the United States to take a stand for the truth, and against genocide denial.”

AAA Action Alert-AG

As in year’s past, the resolution will be assigned to the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), now Chaired by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), a member of the Armenian Caucus. It is not yet clear if Chairman Engel will bring up the measure for a vote this Congress. The last time an Armenian Genocide recognition resolution passed the HFAC committee was in 2010.

The new Armenian Genocide Resolution notes that the U.S. has, as early as 1951, officially recognized the Armenian Genocide through a filing with the International Court of Justice, followed by House legislation adopted in 1975, and 1984 and President Ronald Reagan’s Proclamation in 1984.

The resolution resolves that it is the policy of the United States to:

  1. Commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance;
  2. Reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the U.S. 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 U.S. role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.

Text of the Schiff-Bilirakis “Dear Colleague” regarding the Armenian Genocide Resolution

Dear Colleague:

We ask that you join us as a cosponsor of a resolution affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide, which recognizes and memorializes the historical fact of the Ottoman Empire’s genocidal campaign against the Armenian people, as well as the Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and other religious minorities, from 1915 to 1923. Millions of men, women, and children were killed, shot, beaten, starved, and raped as they were marched through deserts and over mountains. When the killing finally ended, 1.5 million Armenians had been killed and millions more had been displaced from the land of their birth.

There is no debate among historians that the Ottoman Empire committed atrocities against the Armenians, or that it meets the definition of a “genocide.” Indeed, the facts of the genocide were recorded contemporaneously by American diplomats, including the Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, who transmitted a flood of cables and reports describing the wholesale slaughter of the Armenians. It was partially the study of the experience of the Armenians which inspired Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew whose family was killed in the Holocaust, to coin the word “genocide” to describe the crime of destroying an entire people and culture.

The campaign to destroy the Armenian people failed, in part thanks to the humanitarian assistance provided by the American people. Hearing reports of the wholesale killing and displacement of Armenians and other minorities in the Ottoman Empire, Americans responded with generosity and support. Congress passed first of its kind legislation to establish the Near East Relief effort which provided millions of dollars in food and aid to survivors, including tens of thousands of orphans.

For over 100 years, genocide survivors and their descendants have sought truth and justice. They have fought to have this horrific chapter in their history recognized by the international community and, for the sizeable Armenian-American diaspora, by their own government. Forty-eight U.S. states have recognized the Armenian Genocide, as have 28 foreign nations including some of our closest allies. Although the United States has made direct reference to the genocide in the past, including by proclamation of President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and through the passage of House Resolutions in 1975 and 1984, Congressional acceptance of the fact of the genocide is long overdue.

Let us be direct. Genocide recognition is opposed by a single entity: The government of Turkey. For decades, Turkey has deployed threats and an intense campaign of lobbying to intimidate the Congress from recognizing the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide is also a source of continued regional tension, undermining the foundations of a durable peace that would be in the best interests of the United States and our national security. Official recognition of the Armenian Genocide can help open a new chapter in United States foreign policy. It is time for the United States to take a stand for the truth, and against genocide denial.

The United States should never be complicit in genocide denial, what Elie Wiesel described as the final stage of genocide and a “double killing.” As we confront continuing mass atrocities around the world, including the genocide of religious minorities carried out by ISIS in Syria and Iraq or the extermination of the Rohingya in Burma, Congress’s silence about the Armenian Genocide of a century ago undermines our moral standing. It must end.

To join us as an original cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide resolution, please contact Caroline Nicholas in Rep. Schiff’s office or Shayne Woods in Rep. Bilirakis’s office.

Sincerely,
Adam B. Schiff
Member of Congress

Gus M. Bilirakis
Member of Congress

Reps. Bilirakis, Deutch Sign Letter in Support of Karabakh Peace

Bilirakis-Deutch

By Taniel Koushakjian
Florida Armenians Managing Editor

Florida Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) have signed a letter that will be sent to U.S. Ambassador James Warlick later this week calling for increased security measures and confidence building mechanisms along the Nagorno Karabakh-Azerbaijan border. Congressman Bilirakis serves as Co-Chair of the Hellenic Caucus, Co-Chair of the Hellenic Israel Alliance Caucus, and Vice-Chair of the Armenian Caucus.

“When violence and aggression become a pattern in a historically turbulent region, we, as American policy leaders, should speak out strongly to dispel further hostilities,” Congressman Bilirakis told FLArmenians.com.  “That is why I joined my colleagues in a letter to James Warlick, U.S. Co-Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group urging a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict. Azerbaijani aggression must stop so that peace and security can return to the region as swiftly as possible,” he said.

Congressman Deutch, whose Palm Beach County district is home to the largest Armenian community in Florida, serves with Bilirakis as the Co-Chair of the Hellenic Israel Alliance Caucus.

“I want to thank our Florida Representatives, Gus Bilirakis and Ted Deutch, for their support in calling for an end to the escalating violence against Armenia and Karabakh,” stated District 21 resident and Florida Armenians Boca Raton Chair George Sarkisian.

As FLArmenians.com previously reported, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) are circulating a bipartisan letter asking their Congressional colleagues to support renewed U.S. leadership in the South Caucasus.

The two senior legislators are currently collecting signatures on a letter addressed to Ambassador James Warlick, U.S. representative to the OSCE Minsk Group which is responsible for mediating a resolution of the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh. The Royce-Engel letter specifically calls for the U.S. and OSCE to abandon the failed policy of false parity in responding to acts of aggression, noting that: “The longstanding U.S. and OSCE practice of responding to each new attack with generic calls upon all parties to refrain from violence has failed to de-escalate the situation. Instead, this policy of artificial evenhandedness has dangerously increased tensions. There will be no peace absent responsibility.”

The legislators propose three concrete steps that would, “in the short-term, save lives and help to avert war. Over the longer term,” the letter says, “these steps could contribute to a comprehensive and enduring peace for all the citizens of the region:”

Specifically, the letter calls for:

  1. An agreement from all sides not to deploy snipers along the line of contact;
  2. The placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire-locator systems and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line of contact; and
  3. The deployment of additional OSCE observers along the line of contact to better monitor cease-fire violations.

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the governments of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have both pledged their support for these confidence-building measures, while Azerbaijan has repeatedly opposed them.

CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT GROWS

FLArmenians Action, R-E letter

Over fifty-five members of Congress have signed the Royce-Engel letter to Ambassador Warlick. In addition to the House Foreign Affairs Committee leadership, the letter has the support of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA), U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), and former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel (D-NY).

Congressman Schiff wrote a separate letter to Ambassador Warlick earlier this month warning, “unwillingness to speak plainly about the aggressor in this conflict sends the message to Azerbaijan that it can act with impunity.” “I do not believe the cause of peace is served by ignoring Azerbaijan’s increasing belligerence and the suggestion that both parties are equally to blame for violence along the Line of Contact when that is not the case,” Schiff’s letter states.

TEXT OF THE ROYCE-ENGEL LETTER TO AMBASSADOR WARLICK:

The Honorable James Warlick
U.S. Co-Chair
OSCE Minsk Group

Dear Ambassador Warlick:

We are writing out of concern over the escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in deaths on both sides of the conflict. It is our hope that the United States, through its role in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, as well as through direct diplomacy with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, will immediately advocate for several steps to promote peace in the region.

We believe that securing the full and public support of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Nagorno-Karabakh for the following steps would, in the short-term, save lives and help to avert war. Over the longer term, these steps could contribute to a comprehensive and enduring peace for all the citizens of the region.

  • An agreement from all sides not to deploy snipers along the line of contact.
  • The placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire-locator systems and sound-ranging equipment to determine the source of attacks along the line of contact.
  • The deployment of additional OSCE observers along the line of contact to better monitor cease-fire violations.

We also urge you to publicly condemn specific acts of aggression along the line of contact. The longstanding U.S. and OSCE practice of responding to each new attack with generic calls upon all parties to refrain from violence has failed to de-escalate the situation. Instead, this policy of artificial evenhandedness has dangerously increased tensions. There will be no peace absent responsibility.

Thank you for your consideration of these recommendations. We continue to support your efforts to reach a durable and just resolution to this conflict and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Ed Royce (R-CA); Eliot Engel (D-NY); Gus Bilirakis (R-FL); Mike Bishop (R-MI); Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU); Dave Brat (R-VA); Tony Cárdenas (D-CA); Judy Chu (D-CA); David N. Cicilline (D-RI); Katherine Clark (D-MA); Mike Coffman (R-CO); Jim Costa (D-CA); Suzane DelBene (D-WA); Jeff Denham (R-CA); Ted Deutch (D-FL); Robert Dold (R-IL); Daniel Donovan, Jr. (R-NY); Anna Eshoo (D-CA); Scott Garrett (R-NJ); Richard Hanna (R-NY); Joe Heck (R-NV); Michael Honda (D-CA); Steve Israel (D-NY); Jim Langevin (D-RI); Sandy Levin (D-MI); Ted Lieu (D-CA); Dan Lipinski (D-IL); Zoe Lofgren (D-CA); Nita Lowey (D-NY); Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Jim McDermott (D-WA); James McGovern (D-MA); Grace Napolitano (D-CA); Devin Nunes (R-CA); Frank Pallone (D-NJ); Mike Quigley (D-IL); Charles Rangel (D-NY); Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA); Peter Roskam (R-IL); Linda Sanchez (D-CA); Loretta Sanchez (D-CA); John Sarbanes (D-MD); Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); Adam Schiff (D-CA); Kurt Schrader (D-OR); Brad Sherman (D-CA); Adam Smith (D-WA); Chris Smith (R-NJ); Jackie Speier (D-CA); Dina Titus (D-NV); Dave Trott (R-MI); Niki Tsongas (D-MA); David Valado (R-CA); Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Peter Welch (D-VT)