WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), for an entire hour on the House Floor, will read the names of a small fraction of the 1.5 million people killed during the Armenian Genocide after business concludes in the House for the day. It will be broadcast on C-SPAN. It comes the day after the White House confirmed to Armenian-American community leaders that the President would not use the word genocide when he issues a statement Friday on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
“In a single hour, I will only be able to read the names of a mere fraction of those who were killed in the Armenian Genocide,” said Schiff. “To read all of the names of the more than 1.5 million people murdered at the time, would take many weeks and weeks, and I hope that the recitation of the victims will help call attention to the magnitude of the crime. A name, unlike a number, is no abstraction – each was a son or daughter, a mother or father, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle; each was a precious life.”
Schiff also commented on the President’s not using the word genocide last night: “I’m deeply disappointed that the President, once again, will fail to properly describe the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923 for what it was – genocide. How long must the victim’s and their families wait before our nation has the courage to confront Turkey with the truth about the murderous past of the Ottoman Empire? If not this President, who spoke so eloquently and passionately about recognition in the past, whom? If not after one hundred years, when? The United States has long prided itself for being a beacon of human rights, for speaking out against atrocity, for confronting painful chapters of its own past and that of others. This cannot be squared with a policy of complicity in genocide denial by the President or Congress. Last week, the Pope spoke powerfully of the need to bind the wound that continues to bleed in the absence of recognition – I only wish Washington had been listening.”
This past month, Schiff joined over 40 congressional colleagues to introduce the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution. This bipartisan resolution calls upon the President to work toward equitable, constructive, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgement of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide. The resolution will also establish a fair, just, and comprehensive international record of this crime against humanity.
This year, 2015, marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide – a systematic and deliberate annihilation campaign launched by the government of the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian population which left 1.5 million Armenians dead and millions more displaced. While the Armenian Genocide has been recognized by more than twenty nations including Canada, Italy, Sweden, France, Argentina and Russia, as well as the European Parliament, it has not been formally recognized by the U.S. Congress in decades and has not been recognized by President Barack Obama.
In past years, Schiff has taken to the House floor in April to recognize the Genocide. Two years ago, he spoke on the House Floor in Armenian to recognize and pay tribute to those lost – the first time that language had been spoken in the well of Congress. And last year, he delivered an open letter to the Turkish people urging them to examine their ancestor’s role in the first genocide of the 20th century.