Why Pass an Armenian Genocide Resolution for the Third Time?
A new Armenian Genocide resolution is being introduced in the House of Representatives this week.
The first question is why Congress is being asked to pass a genocide resolution for the third time? As is well known, the House of Representatives twice adopted resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, in 1975 and 1984. What would Armenians gain by adopting the resolution for the third time? And if it passes this year, would another attempt be made to pass it again for the fourth time next year?
Some may be under the mistaken impression that such resolutions would help Armenians obtain restitution from Turkey for their confiscated lands and stolen possessions. This is simply not true. Commemorative resolutions express "the sense" of Congress and do not have the force of law. Furthermore, if these resolutions had any real benefits, Armenians would have taken advantage of them during the decades since their adoption!
On the positive side, the passage of these resolutions have ethical, psychological, and political dimensions. Morality dictates that the mass murder of an entire nation not be forgotten or ignored. Yet, it is the Turkish government’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide that compels Armenians to present such resolutions to Congress year after year. Regrettably, successive U.S. administrations also share the blame in this sordid affair by aiding and abetting the Turkish denialists, and playing unethical word games with the extermination of 1.5 million innocent men, women and children.
The psychological advantage of passing such a resolution is the satisfaction received by descendants of genocide victims when their loss and pain are acknowledged by the legislature of the world’s greatest democracy.
The political raucous, whenever an Armenian Genocide resolution is introduced in Congress, is due to the Turkish government’s scandalous behavior. Dozens of commemorative resolutions on a variety of issues are adopted by the U.S. Congress each year, yet not a single one makes the news. Because Turkish leaders create such mayhem by making threats against the United States, dispatching high-level delegations to Washington, hiring powerful lobbying firms, and spending valuable political capital, they end up making millions of people aware of the facts of the Armenian Genocide. While the Turkish intent is to cover up the mass murder of Armenians almost a century ago, their berserk reaction inadvertently succeeds in publicizing to the whole world the dastardly crimes committed by their forefathers.
Hopefully, the Turkish government would once again resort to its normal bullying tactics, thereby attracting the attention of the international community to the Armenian Genocide issue. The newly introduced resolution can only benefit from such Turkish-generated publicity, since the Republican-dominated House is not likely to act on it anytime soon, not that the more sympathetic Democrats had a greater degree of enthusiasm to bring it to a vote late last year, when they were in power!
Certainly, Turkish officials could be even more helpful should they create unexpected crises with the United States, thus forcing the hand of both the Democratic administration and Republican House leadership to support the genocide resolution. Meanwhile, the Armenian-American community would keep the issue alive and ready to be triggered at the opportune moment, causing the Turkish side to spend millions of dollars in on-going lobbying efforts!
Such an opportunity may come later this month with a possible bloody confrontation between the second Turkish "humanitarian" flotilla and Israel’s Navy, which could trigger the ire of U.S. and Israeli leaders, compelling them to put the pending Genocide resolutions to a vote in their respective legislatures. While Armenians would resent seeing the genocide issue used as a political football, they may not have much of a choice, since they have been just as offended when the resolution was not being adopted for all the wrong reasons!
Going beyond the genocide issue, Armenian-Americans may introduce several other resolutions in Congress this year involving Armenian-Turkish relations:
- Urging Turkey to return the expropriated Armenian churches to the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul, allowing them to function as churches, not museums, mosques, or touristic sites;
- Honoring the distinguished jurist Raphael Lemkin who coined the term genocide, influenced by the mass murder of Armenians in 1915;
- Advocating the lifting of the blockade of Armenia imposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan; and
- Supporting the protection of human rights of all minorities in Turkey (Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Jews, and Kurds).
With the upcoming congressional and presidential elections, and unexpected developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, we may be facing a hectic and chaotic political season. It is critical for Armenian-Americans and their supporters to remain well informed, active, and committed to the pursuit of Armenian interests.