April 24, 2011

Armenian Genocide

[Page: S2498]  GPO's PDF 

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Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the 96th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide--a tragedy that has left a dark stain on the collective conscience of mankind.

What has made this tragedy even more painful--particularly for the Armenian people--is the failure of successive U.S. administrations to acknowledge the deliberate massacre of the Armenians by its rightful name--genocide.

So today, I also rise to reiterate my call to President Barack Obama to finally right this terrible wrong.

In 2008, then-Senator Obama said:

..... the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable.

I could not agree more. And every day that goes by without full acknowledgement of these undeniable facts by the United States prolongs the pain felt by descendants of the victims, as well as the entire Armenian community.

[Page: S2499]  GPO's PDF

Countless experts have documented the atrocities that occurred between 1915 and 1923, when more than 1.5 million Armenians were marched to their deaths in the deserts of the Middle East, murdered in concentration camps, drowned at sea, and forced to endure unimaginable acts of brutality at the hands of the Ottoman Empire--now modern-day Turkey.

Yet successive U.S. administrations continue only to refer to the genocide by such terms as ``annihilation,'' ``massacre,'' and ``murder.''

This is not only an affront to the memory of the victims and to their descendants, but it does a disservice to the United States as it seeks to stand up to those who are perpetrating violence today.

In a recent speech President Obama eloquently said:

Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.

The United States is not a nation that turns a blind eye to atrocities, and that is why it is so important that we finally acknowledge the Armenian genocide for what it was--genocide.

As I have said, genocide is only possible when people avert their eyes. Any effort to deal with genocide--in the past, present, or future, must begin with the truth.

So this April 24, as we pause to remember the victims and to honor the countless contributions Armenian Americans have made to our great country, I hope that the U.S. finally stands on the right side of history and calls the tragedy of 1915-1923 by its rightful name.

(Senate - April 14, 2011)

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