Congresswoman Betty McCollum
Serving Minnesota's 4th Congressional District
1029 Longworth HOB w Washington, DC 20515
http://www.mccollum.house.gov

For Immediate Release: September 15, 2005

Contact: Dany Khy (202) 225-6631 / [email protected]

Statement from Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) on the Armenian Genocide

Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) made the
following statement in the U.S. House International Relations Committee
during debate of H.Con.Res.195, a resolution to commemorate the Armenian
Genocide of 1915-1923:

"I had an opportunity to attend in St. Paul a remembrance of the victims of
the Armenian genocide. The Armenian community warmly embraced and said
prayers for the victims of the ongoing genocide in Darfur.

"One and a half million people died under a former government, the Ottoman
regime. It is important to remember Mr. Schiff's statement about the age of
the survivors of the genocide. We are running out of time as an
international community to move toward peace and reconciliation. We are
running out of time for the victims and those who remember the tragedy to
come together and heal.

"I am pleased that a joint commission is being discussed. I've spoken to
people in Turkey and to people within the Turkish government who would like
to see reconciliation move forward.

"The fact that the Turkish government has not moved as quickly as many of us
would like is important. Equally important is that there are many in Turkey
who realize that truth and reconciliation, and a recognition in history,
will go a long way in healing many wounds.

"We need to look at what has happened in history in order to move forward
with reconciliation. Look at our own history with the Native Americans and
the Japanese internment. In my state of Minnesota, people with mental
illness were warehoused, buried without even a marker to recognize them as
individuals.

"We have to acknowledge when we've had failures. We have to acknowledge
when we've hurt one another. The failure to do so sends the wrong signal to
our children, that it doesn't matter what you do, people will forget about
it. It sends the wrong message, that there's no lesson to be learned from
treating each other cruelly and inhumanely. There's no judgment.

"I support both resolutions recognizing the Armenian genocide [H.Con.Res.
195 and H.Res. 316]. However, I would like to say this to the Turkish
government: you are moving forward; slowly but forward. I appreciate,
respect and acknowledge that, but time is running out.

"As a member of the International Relations Committee, it is my
responsibility to try to be consistent on policies. I recognized genocide
in Darfur. I saw it with my own eyes - I witnessed a government attacking
its own citizens. For me, the atrocities that occurred under the Ottoman
Empire, not the Turkish Republic, but the Ottoman Empire, were similar -- a
government attacking its own citizens. Fortunately, that government no
longer exists. However, people living in the region must have an accurate
reflection of history in order to move forward toward peace and
reconciliation.

"And to the Turkish government, I would also like to say, as I said to the
Turkish Ambassador when he was in my office shortly after the Turkish
Parliament took a vote not to allow U.S. troops: I respect their
sovereignty. I respect their democracy and I respect their right to
determine how they will be engaged in policy."

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