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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

48 Members of Congress Urge President Trump to Meet with Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump meet Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for the first time at the NATO Summit in Belgium on July 11, 2018.

Florida Congressmen Gus Bilirakis, Ted Deutch Sign Armenian Caucus Letter to White House

WASHINGTON, DC – The Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues leadership spearheaded a letter signed by 48 Members of Congress sent to President Donald Trump urging him to meet with newly-appointed Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, during the annual United Nations General Assembly held in New York in September. Two members of Florida’s Congressional delegation, Armenian Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), signed the letter to President Trump.

The letter states: “The peaceful transition of power after the revolution is a clear indication of the will of the Armenian people, strongly demonstrating their commitment to a fairer and more democratic state. As Armenia seeks to bolster government transparency, strengthen democratic institutions, and empower civil society, it is critical for the United States to deepen its ties with this regional partner at every level of government.”

“I commend the people of Armenia for exercising their political rights and bringing about change in peaceful, democratic way,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) told FLARMENIANS. “The Velvet Revolution can serve as a model for the non-violent transfer of power. I am hopeful that the new government will serve the interests of the people and continue to bring democracy, transparency, and prosperity to Armenia,” Deutch said.

In addition to Armenian Caucus leaders Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Dave Trott (R-MI), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA), the letter was signed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA).

The letter to President Trump also requests “a series of high-level conversations between [the President’s] Cabinet Secretaries and their counterparts in Armenia – many of whom have recently been appointed as members of the newly formed government.”

First Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan with Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) in Washington, D.C.

In that regard, the Embassy of Armenia in Washington, DC has been very active telling the story of the Armenian people’s embrace of democracy to U.S. policy makers. Last month, Armenia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan traveled to Washington, DC and met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell; Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Dave Trott (R-MI), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and David Valadao (R-CA); House Democracy Partnership President Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Vice President Rep. David Price (D-NC); and Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL). He also spoke before an audience of academics, diplomats, and government officials at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

While Armenia’s Velvet Revolution can be felt by Armenian men and women, old and young, in every corner of the Diaspora, it is especially inspiring for Armenian Americans who wish to see U.S.-Armenia bilateral relationship reach the next level.