US Senator from Kansas, and Republican Presidential nominee with a long history of ties to the Armenian community.
Injury and recovery
During WWII, Dole was injured in fighting. His recovery from the injury was thanks to the efforts of Dr. Hampar Kelikian, who he never forgot, and without whom he would have had his arm amputated. On October 14, 1997, Senator Dole planted a tree at Tsitsernakaberd in memory of Dr. Hampar Kelikian.
Excerpt from Speech Elizabeth Dole's 1996 Republican National Convention speech on August 14, 1996
|“|| It was at this time in his life that he got to know Dr. Kelikian. Dr. Kelikian was a great surgeon of Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Kelikian had fled war torn Armenia as a young man. Three of his sisters were not so fortunate. But he came to the United States with only $2.00 and a rug from his home land under his arm. Dr. K, at that time a young boy, worked on a farm. The owner of that farm was so impressed that he paid his way through college. He went to medical school and became a great surgeon, a master of bone and joint surgery.
Bob Dole went to Dr. Kelikian looking for a miracle because he wanted to be the person he was before the war, a great athlete, a person that was on his way to study medicine. Dr. Kelikian performed a number of operations and then administered tough love. He had to say to Bob, "you are not going to find a miracle. Now the choice is up to you, Bob, you can continue to feel sorry for yourself or you can get on with your life and work to make the most of what you do have." Dr. Kelikian would not take a penny for any of the operations and did the same for many young veterans coming back from the war who couldn't afford the medical care they needed. So you can imagine how we cherish the friendship of Dr. Kelikian widow's Alice Kelikian and her daughter Alice.
In politics, Dole has been a staunch supporter of passage of an Armenian Genocide resolution.
In the 1990s, the Lincy Foundation set aside over $100 million for a large business loan program in Armenia. Dole was on the board of that loan program, which eventually was converted into an infrastructure project due to the lack of loans being issued.
Dole's April 24 Statement
The text of Dole's April 24, 1996 statement follows:
"April 24, 1915 marks the beginning of the Armenian Genocide of the Ottoman Empire. As you gather today to commemorate the 81st anniversary of this crime against society, I want to pay tribute to the victims of this tragedy. I also share with you the hope that society will never again allow such brutal treatment of humanity.
"Though April 24 is the day singled out to mark this tragedy, during the genocide some 1.5 million Armenians were subjected to systematic extermination through a policy of deportation, torture, starvation, and massacre, I join with the Armenian community in mourning the dead and recalling the suffering and sacrifices of the victims.
"I am proud to underscore my unwavering solidarity and support of the acknowledgment of the 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide as a historical fact. Unlike President Clinton, I have been for years willing to recognize the First Genocide of the modern age. Until the recognition of the Genocide suffered by Armenians receives universal acceptance, I stand with you in your efforts to set right the record of the past.
"While today's occasion is a time for solemn reflection on the suffering of the Armenian people, I also have a strengthened sense of dedication for the independence of Armenia and self-determination for the people of Nogorno-Karabagh. When the 1988 earthquake devastated Armenia, I sponsored legislation which provided U.S. assistance to the victims. It was my privilege to have visited Armenia in 1989 to better determine enacting into law the largest allocation of U.S. assistance to Armenia since independence. I authored the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, which is now law, which prohibits U.S. assistance to any country that blocks the delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance. I have called on Turkey, which is in violation of U.S. law because of its blockade of Armenia, to unconditionally end this inhumane practice. My unwavering support for continuing U.S. sanctions against Azerbaijian also testifies to my commitment to Armenia and Karabagh's quest for justice, peace, and security.
"I know that the future will be better. Most of you have ancestors who were victims of the Genocide to whom all appeared lost. I too have endured war and its devastations, and have learned from personal adversity to move on. In addition to the genocide, Armenians were forced to live under Communist misrule and repression. But you have lived to see your children prosper in freedom and to witness the historic re-establishment of an independent Armenia. I will never retreat from my commitment to a strong and secure Armenia.
"On this 81st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, I know that we can work together to prevent such crimes from recurring. As we remember the past, let us also celebrate the heroic rebirth of the Armenian people."
(signed) Bob Dole.
Letter to Robert Kocharian
Senator Bob Dole
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
North Building, 10th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20004
August 2, 2005
H.E. Robert Kocharian
Republic of Armenia
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to urge you to release Mr. Yektan Turkyilmaz, a Duke University graduate student who has been detained in Armenia since June 17. As I understand it, Yektan broke an obscure law that prohibits exportation of any book--regardless of its rarity, historical significance, or value--more than fifty years old. I also understand, however, that he has been jailed without being charged, and that your authorities intend to hold him indefinitely pending the filing of charges and an eventual trial.
Duke University officials asked me to intervene because I am a longstanding friend of Armenia and because my wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole, is an alumna and former trustee of the university. Elizabeth and I remain prominent supporters of your country, but the issues raised by Yektan's detention go beyond our ties to Armenia and past support by raising questions about Armenia's democratic progress and commitment to the rule of law.
Yektan's detention would seem to highlight problems cited in numerous human rights reports about Armenia, including those of Freedom House and the U.S. State Department. Freedom House, upon which Members of Congress rely to evaluate requests for U.S. aid, does not rank Armenia as a democracy, and further lowered its already unflattering "partly free" rating last year due to your government's mistreatment of opposition leaders and supporters. Your detention of Yektan for seven weeks on any grounds would draw attention to failings in Armenia's democratic evolution. To detain him on grounds as dubious as these calls into question Armenia's commitment to democracy in the first place.
Yesterday, I was pleased to learn that Dr. Vartan Gregorian has offered to post bail for Yektan, but allowing bail only addresses the symptoms resulting from the larger issues at stake in this case. I urge you to investigate the actions of your government, prosecutors and police and release Yektan at once. I also urge you to ask your legislature to examine this strange law, which, if not unique in the world, is certainly unique in the community of free nations.
Your treatment of Yektan makes Armenia look bad--with good reason. Armenia has many friends in the United States, but we cannot and will not defend the indefensible. Thank you for your consideration, and good luck in your continuing service to the people and nation of Armenia.