US House must uphold truth and justice with Armenian genocide resolution

Frank V. Zerunyan, Esq. [Chairman, Board of Governors of the Armenian Bar Association; Mayor Pro Tem, City of Rolling Hills Estates]: "The People's House of the United States of America must follow its tradition and uphold the truth above all else. The speaker of the House of Representatives must bring HR106 to a floor vote because the resolution is morally, intellectually, historically and legally consistent with our American values. We Americans must insist that our leaders promote truth, justice and the rule of law. We have a long tradition of accepting human dignity as an inalienable right and as the basis of our jurisprudence. No one could have described it better than Alexander Hamilton when he said "The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among the old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of divinity itself; and can never be erased or obstructed by mortal power."

"Never again" to Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Rwandans, Darfurians is not just a slogan in the context of the human rights debate in the world; it is a call to meaningful action to eradicate genocide from the world. Experts and scholars confirm that each perpetrator has used previous crimes against humanity with impunity. Indeed Adolph Hitler himself in 1939, before the invasion of Poland, reminded his commanding officers in a passionate speech "who still talks now days of the extermination of the Armenians?" Denial is part of and a completion of this crime against humanity. Our values simply do not permit us to be co-conspirators to the commission of or to the completion of the crime of genocide.

At stake today in Washington DC, of course, is the question of whether the United States House of Representatives should offend Turkey by voting on a resolution condemning the Armenian Genocide of 1915. All actors in this debate are playing the roles they have played for decades. Turkish generals and ministers are threatening our military ties, the closure of our bases, air space and logistics routes. Ironically however, even before any word of this resolution, those routes were already closed to our sons and daughters when our nation went to war to liberate Iraq. There is also a new threat by our own government; "radical Islam". Most if not all credible experts will agree that this threat is simply not credible as the Republic of Turkey will never chose this form of a regime over the great and overwhelming legacy of its founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Moreover, such a threat completely undermines contemporary Turkish identity.

While the Republic of Turkey may react negatively in the short term (I think to their own detriment), recognition of the Armenian genocide is warranted for several reasons. First, the HR106 declares the truth; a truth that 23 other countries, 40 American States and countless Counties and Cities have already recognized. Second, no one discusses or even mentions our influence and the basis of our influence over the Republic of Turkey. The truth is that we brought Turkey into the NATO Alliance without which Turkey's security could not be guaranteed. We support Turkey's membership into the European Union; an economic "must" for the survival of Turkey into the 21st Century and beyond. We granted Turkey a most favored nation trading status resulting in more than $7 billion in annual trade and $2 billion in US investments in Turkey. Only Israel and Egypt outrank Turkey as recipients of US Foreign assistance. Third, it is inconceivable that even back in the days when the US prized West Germany as a buffer and deterrent against the Soviet Union, we Americans would have refrained from condemning The Shoah (the Holocaust) at Germany's behest.

Finally and more importantly to this American of Armenian decent, it brings finality and closure, bringing back human dignity to humanity lost almost a century ago. I assume most of you know the eternal resting grounds of your great grand fathers and grand mothers; I don't. My ancestors formed the first Christian nation in the world (301 A.D.) only to become the invisible Christians in unmarked graves in the early stages of the 20th Century.

I am the great-grand son of a victim and the grand son of a survivor. Ironically, I live today as the direct result of the kindness of a Turkish gentleman (Effendi) who had the humanity to shelter my grand father. I applaud his humanity and encourage our leaders to follow in his footsteps."

 

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