WASHINGTON, DC – In anticipation of House Resolution 296, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) spoke about the Resolution which, if passed, will not only reaffirm the U.S. House of Representative’s record on the Armenian Genocide, but will require any sitting U.S. president to use the term “Genocide” during the annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration address to the nation on April 24.
Congressman Schiff expressed that he is more optimistic about tomorrow’s vote on H.Res. 296 than any other time in the past two decades. “I think this is an incredibly important milestone, we’ve been working hard with the Armenian Diaspora and with human rights organizations,” said Schiff. “We have not succeeded in passing this Resolution since the mid1980s. It is tragically overdue and it has always been my hope that we could pass this Resolution while there were Genocide survivors still left among us. If we are successful tomorrow, we may have just barely made that possible,” he added.
In terms of receiving opposition from the Trump Administration, the Congressman stated that although the President used the same generic “Medz Yeghern” language during the annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration speech, the usual full force of opposition has not been apparent. Congressman Schiff attributes this factor to the current situation with the Turkish Army’s invasion of northern Syria.
“There is enormous anger in Congress on both sides of the aisle with the President’s betrayal of the Kurds and for the allowing of the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds,” said Schiff. “I think the Administration recognizes that it would be hard pressed to continue this obsequiousness to President Erdogan.”
When asked whether passage of H.Res. 296 will send a message to Turkey, Congressman Schiff replied: “I think it will send a message that President Erdogan cannot bully the U.S. House of Representatives. He may hold sway over the President, but he does not dictate what happens in Congress. We are going to continue to speak out on a bi-partisan basis about human rights abuses committed by Turkey. We are going to bring renewed energy for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and I hope that tomorrow’s vote, will be the beginning of an annual recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the halls of Congress.”
In regards to whether Turkey and its allies should face war crimes for atrocities against Kurds and other minorities in northern Syria, Congressman Schiff stated that in daily reports from the State Department, there is a well-orchestrated campaign of violence in Kurdish areas by Turkey’s radical Islamic militias.
“The Secretary of Defense has acknowledged that if the reports that we have been reading and receiving are accurate, that it is very possible that war crimes have been committed,” said Schiff. “Anyone responsible for those war crimes should be held accountable and I hear that we have not seen the last of this kind of atrocity. The Turks are employing militias in Syria to ethnically cleanse Kurdish neighborhoods. A lot of these Turkish militias include radical islamists and terrorists. It is not surprising that we are seeing reports in the region of cold-blooded murder,” he added.
As a long-time supporter and ally of the Armenian American community, Congressman Schiff urges everyone to mobilize and be proactive in helping H.Res. 296 get passed tomorrow. “I would urge the community to take nothing for granted, to work the phones and email and use social media and do everything possible to ensure that every member of Congress does their humanitarian duty,” said Schiff.
The Congressman reiterated the importance of getting H.Res. 296 passed and expressed words of encouragement for activists who have been fighting for the Armenian Cause for decades. “Until this Bill is taken up to pass, we take nothing for granted,” he stated. “We have a lot of hard work to do tomorrow until the moment of the vote and I’m just grateful to the Armenian community for their enormous efforts and many years now to make tomorrow possible. It shows what a dedicated grass-roots effort can do, even against insurmountable odds.”
To voice your support for H.Res. 296, please call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and request to be connected to your Representative’s office. If you are not sure who your Representative is, visit: https://www.house.gov