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Hastings and Wexler break with Pelosi, urge House to drop Turkey-Armenia resolution

Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Miramar Democrat who chairs the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe - better known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission - is urging House leaders to abandon their efforts to bring a controversial resolution to the floor for a vote.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Hastings argues that the Armenian Genocide Resolution "would have serious consequences for the United States' important relationship with modern-day Turkey, a strong NATO ally; and threaten our operations and our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The resolution, which cleared a House committee last week despite intense lobbying from the Bush administration and Turkey, says a 1915 killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was genocide.

Turkey objects to the resolution but Pelosi and California lawmakers, who represent a large Armenian-American community, have said they plan to take the resolution to the floor.

The full letter is below in the comments section.

He will be joined by Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, at a press conference Wednesday to ask the House to drop the proposal.


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The Honorable Nancy Pelosi


The Honorable Steny H. Hoyer

Majority Leader

United States House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer:

We write to express our concern regarding H. Res. 106, the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution. By doing so, we in no way diminish the suffering and tragedy of the Armenian people under the Ottoman Empire, whose memory burns in the hearts and minds of their descendants.

Enactment of H. Res. 106, which is directed at actions of the Ottoman Empire, would have serious consequences for the United States’ important relationship with modern-day Turkey, a strong NATO ally; and threaten our operations and our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkey, a majority Muslim country, is a secular democracy geographically straddling the bridge between East and West at a time of turmoil and uncertainty for the countries in the region. In addition to being our partner in democracy, Turkey is also a key strategic ally. More than half of the cargo flown into Iraq and Afghanistan comes through Incirlik Air Base and this base would be a key component of any plans for redeployment of our troops in the future.

In the wake of passage of H. Res. 106 by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Turkish government has recalled its Ambassador to the United States, Nabi Sensoy, to Ankara for consultations. In addition to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, eight former Secretaries of State and three Secretaries of Defense from the Clinton, Bush I, Reagan and Ford Administrations, have warned that passage of the resolution could imperil our national security interests as well as inhibit efforts toward reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, including the possible opening of the border. Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of the Armenian Orthodox Community in Turkey has said, “The ‘Armenian Genocide Resolution’ pending in the U.S. Congress disrupts both the relations between Turkish people and Armenians in Turkey and between Turkey and Armenia.”

We urge you to not bring the resolution before the House for a vote at this critical time for our men and women in uniform in the region, and for the stability of the Middle East.

Alcee L. Hastings, M.C. John S. Tanner, M.C.

Chairman Chairman, House Delegation to the

Commission on Security and NATO Parliamentary Assembly Cooperation in Europe

Broward Observer

Any nation that would threaten an ally over a resolution that is non binding is not a strong ally. We should have learned by now not to put ourselves in a vulnerable position with foreign countries. We have done it with oil and now with a questionable at best, so called ally. When the Turks invade Iraq to destroy the Kurds the war will expand between two so called U.S. allies.We just keep sinking deeper into the mud. Mr. Wexler and Mr. Hastings are wrong. Covering up a crime does not absolve the guilty. It just encourages more of the same behavior.

This development is most unfortunate. As an Armenian-American, I am very discouraged at the weakness of our delegation members. Perhaps the members of the Florida delegation should read the following.

Who Remembers the Armenians?
By: Christine Thomassian and Shabtai Gold

Adolf Hitler was confident that the world would remain indifferent to the plight of the Jewish people he was planning to exterminate. After all, he reportedly told Nazi commanders before the outbreak of World War II, who remembers the Armenians?

The answer to Hitler's rhetorical question remained much the same as the 90th anniversary of the Turkish genocide of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians was commemorated last weekend.

Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust museum and the world's central address for commemorating the horrors of genocide, recently opened a new wing to its museum, with much international fanfare. There is not a single mention in the new museum of the Armenian genocide, which paved the ideological way for the Jewish genocide perpetrated by the Nazis.

For its part, the Turkish government — much like today's Holocaust deniers — continues to disclaim its involvement in the genocide and the very occurrence of such a horror, expending large sums of money in this campaign. Some in Turkey admit that a few "individuals" committed massacres against the Armenians, but they are quick to assert that these acts were provoked by the Armenians themselves in order to receive aid and sympathy.

Not satisfied with this accusation, this week the Turkish State Archives announced that more than a half million Turks were killed by Armenians. True, many Armenians collaborated with the Russians as irregular fighters against Turkey in World War I, and they may have killed as many as 75,000 Turks. But given the anti-Armenian pogroms initiated by Turkey during the 1890s that set the stage for the full-scale genocide in 1915, Armenians' partaking in the fighting is easily understood — no one should be expected to go like sheep to the slaughter.

Sadly, the Turkish government is not alone in its campaign. Indeed, it is receiving support from some very odd sources, including a number of prominent Jewish organizations in Washington and the Jewish state itself. Noble Peace laureate Shimon Peres, while serving as Israeli foreign minister in 2001, called the Armenian genocide nothing more than a "tragedy," saying "nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred."

Much energy, effort and money is justifiably spent on attempting to ensure that the world will never forget the Holocaust. Wouldn't it meet our standards of morality to include all such horrors?

What about the Assyrian Christians murdered along with Armenians by Turkey? What about the Roma, homosexuals and other "undesirables" massacred by the Nazis? And what of the more recent killing fields in Cambodia, Rwanda and now Darfur?

Shouldn't "never again" be applied to all men, women and children who are starved, beaten, obligated to undergo torturous medical experiments, marched through forests or deserts, forced to dig their own mass graves or herded into gas chambers? Is "never again" an admonition over which the Jewish people can maintain a monopoly?

Shouldn't the American Jewish community be doing more to help gain recognition for the Armenian genocide, 90 years after the fact? After all, the first American human rights movement to focus on issues overseas was founded to stop the travesties being committed against Armenians. And it was Henry Morgenthau, America's Jewish ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, who led the campaign to alert the world to the horrors being perpetrated by Turkey.

Denial is, without a doubt, the final stage of genocide. It murders the memory of the horrors, and of the dead. We must always guard against denial becoming accepted as legitimate discourse, let alone as fact. Will we allow Turkey to successfully continue its campaign of denial?

If we do, we will be condemning our children to repeat these horrors and to have these horrors repeated unto them, as American philosopher George Santayana famously warned a century ago. But if we act now, if we insure that our children and our children's children are properly educated about the Armenian genocide, then just maybe we can prevent "never again" from becoming an empty saying.

Christine Thomassian and Shabtai Gold are university students who lost members of their family in, respectively, the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust.

this article can be found at: http://assyriatimes.com/engine/modules/news/article.php?storyid=43

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