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[Congressional Record: April 28, 2005 (Extensions)]
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of california

in the house of representatives

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the one and a half
million Armenians who perished in the Armenian Genocide that began 90
years ago on April 24, 1915. This is a sacred obligation that we
undertake each April--to ensure that future generations of Americans
remember the first genocide of the 20th century and to ensure that the
men, women and children who perished at the hands of the Ottoman Empire
are not lost to history.
Mr. Speaker, there is no dispute that what happened to the Armenian
people is genocide. Thousands of pages of documents sit in our National
Archives. One of these documents is a report from the American Consul
in Trebizond, Oscar Heizer. On July 28, 1915, Heizer cabled the U.S.
Embassy in Constantinople to report on the massacre of 180 Armenian
road workers, who were shot and stripped of their clothes before being
buried in the woods.
Newspapers of the day were replete with stories about the murder of
Armenians. ``Appeal to Turkey to Stop Massacres'' headlined the New
York Times on April 28, 1915, just as the killing began. On October 7
of that year, the Times reported that 800,000 Armenians had ``been
slain in cold blood in Asia Minor.'' In mid-December of 1915, the Times
spoke of a ``Million Armenians Killed or in Exile.''
Prominent citizens of the day, including America's Ambassador to the
Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, and Britain's Lord Bryce reported on
the massacres in great detail. Morgenthau was appalled at what he would
later call the ``sadistic orgies'' of rape, torture and murder. Lord
Bryce, a former British Ambassador to the United States, worked to
raise awareness of and money for the victims of what he called ``the
most colossal crime in the history of the world.'' In October 1915 the
Rockefeller Foundation contributed $30,000--a sum worth more than half
a million dollars today--to a relief fund for Armenia.
Last week at the annual commemoration of the genocide here on the
Hill, I had the honor to meet, Henry Morgenthau, the grandson of
Ambassador Morgenthau. He is still carrying on his grandfather's
mission to make America and the world aware of what happened.
The generation of Armenians with direct memory of the genocide is
almost gone; their children are aging. Much of the rest of the world
has moved on, reluctant to dredge up ``unpleasant'' memories and risk
the ire of modern Turkey.
But even now, almost a century after the start of the genocide, some
survivors are still with us. One of them, Ghazaros Kademian, is a
constituent of mine. He is 96 now, but his mind is sharp and he
remembers clearly the day when, as a six-year-old boy he and his family
were forced from their house. He was from the village of Zaitoun,
located southeast of present day Turkey. Kademian's father stayed
behind to defend his homeland and was murdered. His mother took his
hand and ran away.

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Kademian and his mother had no shoes, coats, food, or money. They had
to leave everything behind for the Turks. He does not remember all the
details of their long journey, except it was harsh, cold, and
dangerous, because they had no idea where they were going.
The boy and his mother ended their flight in Kirkuk, in what is now
northern Iraq. He remembers very vividly that the first night in Kirkuk
they hugged each other for warmth and slept in front of a church for
protection. In the morning he woke up; but his mother did not move, she
was frozen and dead. He was left alone, homeless, in a town where he
did not speak the same language.
What happened to Ghazaros Kademian's family was terrible and tragic,
but not uncommon. All over the Ottoman Empire Armenian children and
their parents fled from their homes with only the clothes on their
backs. But for those of us who care deeply about this issue, Kadmian's
story is a reminder that we must redouble our efforts to ensure that
our nation, which has championed liberty and human rights throughout
its history, is not comp1icit in Ankara's effort to obfuscate what
happened between 1915 and 1923. Worse still, by tacitly siding with
those who deny the Armenian Genocide, we have rendered hollow our
commitment to ``never again'' let genocide occur.
Within the next few days, several of my colleagues and I will be
introducing a resolution commemorating the Armenian genocide. This
should be an easy resolution for all of us--Republicans and Democrats--
to support.
The reason that we have yet to succeed in passing a resolution
honoring the murdered Armenians is simple: The government of Turkey
refuses to acknowledge the genocide and has spent millions of dollars
and expended countless hours of diplomatic effort to prevent us from
commemorating the suffering of the Armenian people. Turkey's opposition
has always centered on its assertion that acknowledging the victims of
its Ottoman forebears would cause an irreparable rift between the
United States and an important ally.
Last summer, during consideration of the fiscal year 2005 Foreign
Operations Appropriations bill, I offered an amendment to prohibit the
Government of Turkey from using U.S. foreign aid to lobby against H.
Res. 193, a resolution introduced by Representatives Radanovich, Schiff
and the co-chairs of the Armenian Caucus, Representatives Knollenberg
and Pallone, that officially recognizes the Armenian Genocide. H. Res.
193 had been cosponsored by 110 of our colleagues on both sides of the
My amendment touched off a flurry of activity by Turkey's lobbyists.
According to a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing, lobbyists for
the Government of Turkey made at least 32 separate contacts with U.S.
Government officials over a 3-day period in an attempt to kill my
amendment. These included telephone calls to the Speaker of the House,
other Members, numerous congressional staff, an Assistant Secretary of
Defense, National Security Council staff, the Office of the Vice
President, and other State and Defense Department staff.
While Ankara's agents did not succeed in blocking adoption of the
amendment by the House, it was stripped in conference and the full
House never did vote on the Genocide Resolution.
In the name of Ghazaros Kademian and those no longer with us, I call
upon the distinguished Speaker of the House to allow us to vote on a
Genocide resolution this year. We must do it soon, for with each year
the events of 1915-1923 recede a bit more into the dark of history.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress