WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took to the Senate Floor this afternoon to make a formal Unanimous Consent request for the Senate to pass his legislation formally recognizing the Armenian genocide on behalf of the U.S. government. For the second week in a row, a Republican senator objected to the request, blocking the Senate from passing the Resolution recognizing the Ottoman Empire’s killing of 1,500,000 Armenians as a genocide, and memorializing its victims and survivors.
“As a country, we should do whatever we can to prevent future genocides. But if it happens, we have an obligation as a country to call it what it is. If not, we operate without the facts. We do not operate in reality. We aren’t being honest to ourselves and the world,” said Menendez, who was joined by Senator Ted Cruz, one of the Resolution’s 28 cosponsors. “This resolution gives us that reckoning and sets the record straight. A record that so many administrations over the years have sought to obscure.”
Senator Menendez has long fought to honor the memory of those who perished during the Armenian genocide, standing with the Armenian people for decades against genocide denialism in the United States and abroad—and co-authoring a Senate resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide in every Congress since 2006. Just last week, Menendez attempted to pass his Resolution, which was also blocked by a Republican Senator. Last month, the House of Representatives passed a similar resolution by a vote of 405-11.
A copy of Senator’s Resolution can be found here.
Senator Menendez also spoke after Senate passage of the Resolution was blocked by Republican Senator David Purdue (R-Ga.), announcing he will relent and will continue his effort on the Senate Floor to expose those who insist on denying the Armenian Genocide.
“There always seems to be some reason why, in fact, it is not a propitious moment [to recognize the Armenian Genocide]. You know, it’s like a rope-a-dope. There’s always another reason, always another excuse… If 11 NATO allies have done this, and they are still in NATO and they are still working with Turkey and still have diplomatic relationships with Turkey—it is amazing that the greatest superpower on the face of the earth just can’t speak the truth of history,” added Menendez. “Now, I’ve been here in the Senate long enough to know that objections to unanimous consent work both ways. And so, I am going to continue to bring this issue to the Floor. I think Armenian-Americans, the world, and history should record who stands on the side of recognizing genocide for what it is—and who does not.”
Below are Senator Menendez’s remarks as delivered:
“I come down to the floor again with respect to Senate Resolution 150, which I introduced with Senator Cruz to recognize the Armenian Genocide. I am glad that he has joined this effort today to call for unanimous consent on the resolution. I am proud to report that we have 28 sponsors on this important resolution.
Last month, the House passed a version of this resolution by a vote of 405-11. 405-11. This sent a strong bipartisan message of dedication to the truth. Dedication to historical fact. Dedication to a principle held by so many in Congress – that genocide is genocide.
As a country, we should do whatever we can to prevent future genocides. But if it happens, we have an obligation as a country to call it what it is. If not, we operate without the facts. We don’t operate in reality. We aren’t being honest to ourselves and the world.
This resolution gives us that reckoning and sets the record straight. A record that so many administrations over the years have sought to obscure.
These administrations, Republican and Democrat, have dug their heads into the sand despite the words of U.S. diplomats who were there at the time, who saw the genocide with their own eyes.
Let me share a couple of examples.
Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 1913-16, wrote in his memoir that, ‘When the Turkish authorities gave the order for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal this fact. . . I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.’
On June 5, 1915, the U.S. Consul in Aleppo, Jesse Jackson, wrote to Ambassador Morgenthau, ‘There is a living stream of Armenians pouring into Aleppo from the surrounding towns and villages, the principal ones being Marash, Zeitoun, Hassanbeyli, Osmania, Baghtche, Adana, Dortyol, Hadjin,. . . The [Ottoman] Government has been appealed to by various prominent people and even by those in authority to put an end to these conditions, under the representations that it can only lead to the greatest blame and reproach, but all to no avail. It is without doubt a carefully planned scheme to thoroughly extinguish the Armenian race.’
On July 24, 1915, in a report to Ambassador Morgenthau, the U.S. Consul in Harput, Leslie Davis, stated that, ’Any doubt that may have been expressed in previous reports as to the Government’s intention in sending away the Armenians have been removed . . . It has been no secret that the plan was to destroy the Armenian race as a race . . . . Everything was apparently planned months ago.’
In an October 1, 1916 telegram to Secretary of State Robert Lansing, U.S. Charge d'Affaires Hoffman Philip wrote, ’The Department is in receipt of ample details demonstrating the horrors of the anti-Armenian campaign. For many months past I have felt that the most efficacious method of dealing with the situation from an international standpoint would be to flatly threaten to withdraw our Diplomatic Representative from a country where such barbarous methods are not only tolerated but actually carried out by order of the existing government.’
And finally, Abram I. Elkus, who served as the United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1916-17, telegrammed the Secretary of State at the time on October 17, 1916, stating ’In order to avoid opprobrium of the civilized world, which the continuation of massacres [of the Armenians] would arouse, Turkish officials have now adopted and are executing the unchecked policy of extermination through starvation, exhaustion, and brutality of treatment hardly surpassed even in Turkish history.’
American officials, those with the most credible and legitimate understanding of what took place, made these statements. They are part of the historical record, and they mark one of the prouder moments in the history of the State Department and our diplomacy.
Finally, there are 27 countries in the world that have already recognized the Armenian genocide. In fact, 11 of them are NATO countries. None of them have ruptured their relationship with Turkey; None of them have broken their relationship with Turkey after recognizing the Armenian genocide. So why is it that the greatest country on the face of the world incapable of doing the same when so many others already have?
I want to thank the many individuals over the years, particularly from the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly, who have worked so hard to ensure that the U.S. abide by its commitment to the truth and to a world where genocide truly never happens again.”