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Political Landscape: Schiff still fighting for genocide resolution

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  • Political Landscape: Schiff still fighting for genocide resolution

    The Burbank Leader. CA
    June 17 2011

    Political Landscape: Schiff still fighting for genocide resolution

    By Bill Kisliuk, [email protected]

    June 17, 2011 | 5:46 p.m.

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and other advocates for a congressional
    resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide are taking a new tack
    this year, seeking both a genocide recognition vote and approval of a
    measure condemning religious discrimination against Armenian
    Christians in Turkey.

    A strategic ally that allows the U.S. to operate a key military base
    on its soil, Turkey has been an implacable foe of official U.S.
    recognition of the death of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of
    Ottoman Turks from 1915-23. Schiff has tried for several years to get
    such a measure passed.

    On Tuesday, Schiff and Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) reintroduced the
    genocide resolution. Separately, Schiff co-sponsored a resolution by
    Reps. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) and Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)
    demanding that Turkey return property that once belonged to the
    Armenian Church and to end religious discrimination against

    Armenian Christians represent about 1% of the population in Turkey.

    `We're taking a little different approach this year,' Schiff said. `I
    think this improves our chances of making progress.'

    The second resolution may draw support from more lawmakers than the
    genocide measure has, he added.

    Last year, Congress approved a resolution by Rep. Gus Bilirakis
    (R-Fla.) calling for greater religious freedom in Cyprus. The Turkish
    military, which occupies about one-third of Cyprus, has been accused
    of desecrating churches and restricting access to religious sites.

    `We think having more than one iron in the fire will be a productive
    strategy,' Schiff said.

    Lincoln McCurdy, president of the Turkish of Coalition of America,
    said the new resolution is `totally distorted' and that the genocide
    recognition measure has a smaller chance of passing than it did in the
    last Congress.

    `This is a completely new Congress, more domestically focused,'
    McCurdy said. `I think our efforts in trying to have balanced dialogue
    are paying off, and the leadership is not as passionate about it as
    [former Speaker Nancy] Pelosi was.'

    McCurdy said the Turkish resolution fails to recognize historic
    persecution or disenfranchisement of Muslims in the region, including
    Armenia and Greece.

    `Our position is, we wish there was more effort to bring the Turkish
    and Armenian people together,' he said.

    Schiff said passing the genocide recognition resolution remains a high
    priority, not only for his Armenian American constituents, but for the
    United States' human rights record.

    `This is too important a cause to give up,' Schiff said. `We'll keep
    fighting for recognition until we're successful, and we will be.'

    Congressman honors Armenian church leader

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Thursday honored Archbishop Vatche
    Hovsepian, former Primate of the Armenian Church of North America, by
    reading into the Congressional Record comments on Hovsepian's 60th
    year in the priesthood.

    A native of Lebanon, Hovsepian came to the United States in 1956, and
    later led the Armenian church in Canada . He became Archbishop of the
    church, which now has its Western Diocese headquarters in Burbank, in
    1971, and launched several Armenian schools in Southern California.

    Schiff commended Hovsepian `for his selfless dedication and commitment
    to the Armenian community.',0,7436271.story

    From: A. Papazian