Washington, DC (GreekNewsOnline)
U.S. House of Representatives slammed Turkey, by passing overwhelmingly on Tuesday two resolutions:
HR 296 recognizing the Armenian Genocide; and HR 4695 that approves sanctions against Turkey over its offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish forces
HR 296 passed 406-11 and HR 4695 403-16.
“The House just voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide – a vote I fought for 19 years to make possible, that tens of thousands of my Armenian American constituents have waited decades to see. We will not be party to genocide denial. We will not be silent. We will never forget”, Democratic congressman Adam Schiff Twitted after the vote. Schiff and Republican Congressman Gus Bilirakis have introduced the resolution.
Affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide.
Whereas the United States has a proud history of recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide, the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, and providing relief to the survivors of the campaign of genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians;
Whereas the Honorable Henry Morgenthau, United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916, organized and led protests by officials of many countries against what he described as the empire’s “campaign of race extermination”, and was instructed on July 16, 1915, by United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing that the “Department approves your procedure … to stop Armenian persecution”;
Whereas President Woodrow Wilson encouraged the formation of the Near East Relief, chartered by an Act of Congress, which raised $116,000,000 (over $2,500,000,000 in 2019 dollars) between 1915 and 1930, and the Senate adopted resolutions condemning these massacres;
Whereas Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term “genocide” in 1944, and who was the earliest proponent of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, invoked the Armenian case as a definitive example of genocide in the 20th century;
Whereas, as displayed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Adolf Hitler, on ordering his military commanders to attack Poland without provocation in 1939, dismissed objections by saying “[w]ho, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”, setting the stage for the Holocaust;
Whereas the United States has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide, through the United States Government’s May 28, 1951, written statement to the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, through President Ronald Reagan’s Proclamation No. 4838 on April 22, 1981, and by House Joint Resolution 148, adopted on April 8, 1975, and House Joint Resolution 247, adopted on September 10, 1984; and
Whereas the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–441) establishes that atrocities prevention represents a United States national interest, and affirms that it is the policy of the United States to pursue a United States Government-wide strategy to identify, prevent, and respond to the risk of atrocities by “strengthening diplomatic response and the effective use of foreign assistance to support appropriate transitional justice measures, including criminal accountability, for past atrocities”: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that it is the policy of the United States to—
(1) commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance;
(2) reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States Government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide; and
(3) encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the United States role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.
Speaking at the House Floor, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Elliot Engel – who introduce the legislation with the Republican ranking member Mike McCall – said:
“I’ve described the Administration’s approach to international affairs as “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” foreign policy. But over a time, we have seen a pattern emerge. The President of the United States stokes a crisis and then steps in with some sort of half measure in a failed attempt to look like a great deal is happening. You can’t be an arsonist and a fireman at the same time.
“The situation in Syria right now may be the clearest example of this. And the most disastrous.
“Around two weeks ago, President Trump gave Turkey’s president Erdogan the green light to launch a military invasion of northern Syria.
“And that’s precisely what Turkey did. What followed was a gruesome campaign, slaughtering our Syrian Kurdish partners who fought alongside the United States against ISIS. Already, nearly 200,000 people—including women, children, and families—have been displaced, driven from their ancestral homes, ethnic cleansing at its worse. So, the deal we signed with Erdogan has led directly to ethnic cleansing in northern Syria’s indigenous Kurdish region.
“It’s really a disgrace. These people fought with us, these people took bullets for us, these people were our loyal and faithful allies, and for the United States to turn our backs on them, to start a series of events, a chain of events, which would hurt them really is a very dark day in our country’s history.
“And as the Kurds to survive this onslaught, they have been forced to abandon their watch over the prisons holding thousands of ISIS fighters. Over a hundred of these terrorists have reportedly escaped. And now, the situation in northeast Syria is a humanitarian and national security crisis. In a region already rife with conflict, Turkey’s military operation is wreaking even more havoc. And rather than hold Turkey accountable for how they’ve conducted this bloody campaign, President Trump has given them a free pass.
“When the head of ISIS was finally killed, President Trump unfortunately thanked the Turks, thanked the Turkish government. That just doesn’t sit right with me.
“First, the Administration arranged a sham “ceasefire” that gave Erdogan all he could have wanted. Then, Turkey entered into an agreement with Vladimir Putin that ceded America’s influence in the region to Russia, and then, President Trump lifted sanctions on Turkey once the Kurds fled.
“President Trump has let Erdogan off scot-free for a heinous assault that is destabilizing the region and threatening international security. President Trump and President Erdogan are responsible for the catastrophe in northeast Syria. They both must be held accountable.
“On October 16, the House passed a measure rebuking President Trump for this disastrous policy passed—I will note—with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“Now, the United States needs to make sure that Turkish President Erdogan faces consequences for his behavior. And because President Trump has failed to demonstrate American leadership in this regard, it’s now on Congress to step up and impose consequences on Turkey.
“The PACT Act, which is this act, underscores the devastating consequences of Turkey’s invasion and President Trump’s decision to step back and let it happen. It employs targeted, smart sanctions to incentivize Erdogan to stop his military offensive, cease violence against Syrian Kurdish communities, and withdraw from Syria.
“These sanctions are specifically designed to target the Turkish officials and institutions responsible for the bloodshed in Syria without senselessly hurting the Turkish people. After all, it is Erdogan—not the Turkish people—that is responsible for this horror.
“Erdogan is an authoritarian thug. His rule has left a glaring black mark on Turkey’s historic secular, democratic traditions. We need to pressure him while ramping up diplomacy in the hopes of getting Turkey back on the right track as a NATO ally. That’s one of the goals of this measure.
“This bipartisan legislation also requires the Trump Administration to develop concrete strategies for combatting ISIS, protecting Syrian Kurdish communities, and ensuring Syrians who partnered with American forces as well as NGOs and humanitarian organizations can be safely resettled in the United States.
“This is a smart response to address the calamity caused by Turkish forces in Syria. It’s up to Congress to act, to make it clear where the American government stands.
“I want to thank my friend, Ranking Member McCaul, for working with me to introduce this legislation.”