A hoped for last-minute House vote on a resolution that would have officially recognized the Armenian genocide of nearly a century ago didn't happen today, as representatives adjourned for the holidays without a floor vote. Here's an excerpt from KPCC Washington correspondent Kitty Felde's story this afternoon on House Resolution 252:
Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff cosponsored the resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide. He acknowledges that the resolution is largely symbolic, but he says it’s very important to the families of people who lost relatives. "Elie Wiesel, the holocaust survivor has said that the denial of genocide is the last chapter of genocide. And you only need to speak to a family of survivors of the Armenian genocide to understand the truth of those words."
Schiff – whose district includes parts of heavily Armenian Glendale - says the failure of the US government to officially recognize the genocide undermines its human rights efforts elsewhere in the world.
The Armenian National Committee of America issued a statement afterward saying that Armenian Americans were "angered and disappointed." From the statement:
Coming in the wake of President Obama's string of broken promises to recognize the Armenian Genocide, Speaker Pelosi's refusal to schedule a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution represents a major breach of trust with Armenian American voters.
Although sharply disappointed by the Speaker's unwillingness to schedule a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, we were, throughout this session of Congress, tremendously encouraged by the scope and depth of support for the Armenian Genocide Resolution, not only from a bipartisan majority of Congress but also from a growing cross-section of American civil society.
The resolution stood as a possible stumbling block for U.S. relations with Turkey, an important diplomatic ally. The Turkish government has maintained that the deaths of more than a million Armenians during the World War I era at the hands of Ottoman Turks were not a genocide and occurred during a civil war, and that the numbers are inflated.
Armenian Americans, including second, third and fourth-generation descendants of survivors, have long insisted otherwise. Yesterday in anticipation of the vote, Sheri Jordan of the Armenian Genocide Blog wrote:
Armenians all over the world can tell you some of what their grandparents and great grandparents told them. But, like my grandfather, most of what happened to the survivors remained burned into their memories and souls without ever being fully shared with anyone.