Home > Uncategorized > It’s Time for Congress to Be Clear about the Armenian Genocide

It’s Time for Congress to Be Clear about the Armenian Genocide

Tomorrow the House Foreign Affairs Committee takes up H. Res. 252, the “Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution”.

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

Turkey’s foreign minister said today that he hopes the administration will try to prevent the committee from recognizing the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish reporters during a visit to Egypt that he expects “the U.S. administration to give the necessary message” to the Committee.

Davutoglu did not respond to a question on what actions Turkey would take should the resolution be approved.

According to the Washington Post,

In 2007, when the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee passed such a resolution, Turkey promptly recalled its ambassador, and U.S. officials feared the Turks might cut off American access to a Turkish air base essential to operations in Iraq. After intensive lobbying by top Bush administration officials, the resolution was not considered by the full House.

The pressure on the Committee is also coming from Turkey’s lobbyists in Washington. A full-page ad was taken out in today’s Washington Post paid for by the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations and the Federation of Turkish American Associations calls on the Congress to “support reconciliation, not the legislation of history.”

With no disrespect to the two groups, reconciliation requires acknowledgment of past actions. The United States must acknowledge the truth of the genocide, just as the Turks must. To deny the reality that the murder of the Armenians was a genocide makes the United States morally complicit in the horrors.

In the past, U.S. administrations have sided with Turkey and pressured Congress to remain silent on the issue. However, it appears that the Obama Administration will not take such a position. And I surely hope it will not. If the Congress’ recognition of the atrocities committed a century ago can bring the specter of harm to US-Turkish relations, the fault does not lie with Congress.

The admission of truth can only cause harm if Turkey wishes to overreact.

THE INSTITUTE on Religion and Public Policy
made a statement about the resolution today as well, calling on the Committee to pass the resolution.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 18, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Russia ‘s war campaigns concentrated in the Circassian lands of the Northwest Caucasus and the Black Sea coast. To oppress the Circassians, Russia ended up in a solution that was to have sinister historical significance: All the historical territory of the Circassians, the Kuban plains and the Black Sea coast, were to be cleansed of the original population. The Circassians were given two choices: they could move to the interior parts of the Empire, or flee to Turkey. Most Circassians chose Turkey. Mass deportations were started in 1860, and the consequences were catastrophic. A humanitarian disaster followed, and the Circassians immediately organized armed resistance, and made Sochi their capital, appealing for Turkey and the Western states to recognize independent Circassia. Their appeals were ignored.

    In 1862, Russia again started violent deportations, and by May 1864, the Circassian resistance had been crushed. The deportation did not take place without major violence, but the Russian imperial troops committed horrible massacres, and besides, thousands of people starved to death.

    It was really the first intentional large-scale genocide of the modern times, as well as the model case of the consequent tradition of ethnic cleansing. It was also the largest single genocide of the 19th century.It preceded the wave of pogroms and deportations that Russia used against the Jews, and it also preceded the tragic consequences that the same Russian expansion wars against Turkish territories had on Armenians after the turn of the century. For some reason, the Circassian genocide has never been given proper attention or researched well. The Circassian genocide ended at about same time with the launching of the Jewish deportations in 1880s, when more than three million Circassians had been expelled from the territories occupied by Russia. The numbers of those who were killed are not known. Anyway, it meant 90 per cent of the whole Circassian population.

    Anssi Kullberg, 1 Oct. 2003
    The Eurasian Politician – October 2003

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