By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
In a welcome move, four members of the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a resolution that advocates a new approach for the pursuit of Armenian rights in Congress, going beyond genocide recognition.
This new bipartisan initiative, introduced by Congressmen David Valadao (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Michael Grimm (R-NY), and Frank Pallone (D-NJ), is appropriately titled: “Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Act.”
It is well-known that the U.S. government has recognized the Armenian Genocide on several occasions, starting in 1951 by the submission of an official document to the International Court of Justice (World Court), followed by Pres. Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Proclamation of April 22, 1981, and through two House resolutions in 1975 and 1984.
The proposed measure calls upon Pres. Obama “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, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity,” the Armenian National Committee of America reported.
It is high time that Armenian-Americans support congressional efforts that go beyond the mere repetition of the acknowledged facts of Armenian Genocide, and seek the more meaningful goal of justice, which entails the restitution and recovery of the substantial losses suffered as a consequence of the Genocide, including personal and community properties, and the occupied territories of Western Armenia. It is hardly conceivable that anyone would dare to oppose the universally-accepted concept of justice, not even Rejep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, who heads the ruling ‘Justice and Development Party.’
It is understandable that for many years, it was necessary to seek genocide recognition as most of the world was unaware of the Armenian Genocide. However, as a result of the relentless efforts by the Armenian Diaspora and the Republic of Armenia, there is no longer a need to continue pursuing recognition -- having largely prevailed over persistent Turkish denialism. By declaring victory and moving forward to reclaim their just demands, Armenians would avoid falling in the Turkish trap of trying to reconfirm the facts of the Genocide ad nauseam! Meanwhile, the Turkish government would continue its shameful refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide or might engage in the deceptive game of issuing partial and meaningless apologies in order to mislead the international community on the eve of the Genocide’s Centennial.
The new House resolution also seeks to shift the U.S. government’s efforts away from the ill-fated Armenia-Turkey Protocols and refocus the Obama Administration’s attention on Armenia’s just demands from Turkey. The congressional resolution reminds Pres. Obama of his April 24, 2012 statement in which he advocated that “a full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Moving forward with the future cannot be done without reckoning with the facts of the past.”
The resolution points out that the Republic of Turkey, rather than “reckoning with the facts of the past,” has “escalated its international campaign of Armenian Genocide denial, maintained its blockade of Armenia, and increased its pressure on the small but growing Turkish civil society movement acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and seeking justice from this systematic campaign of destruction of millions of Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, Pontian, Syriac, and other Christians upon their biblical-era homelands.”
The Congressional resolution further declares that U.S. “national interests in the establishment of equitable, constructive, stable, and durable relations between Armenians and Turks cannot be meaningfully advanced by circumventing or otherwise seeking to avoid materially addressing the central political, legal, security, and moral issue between these two nations: Turkey’s denial of truth and justice for the Armenian Genocide.”
The newly-introduced resolution makes it clear that Armenians, rather than being satisfied by merely regurgitating the well-known facts of the Genocide, demand a just resolution through full and comprehensive restitution.