Armenian genocide recognition overdue, congressman says

By Mark Kellam – 24/4/13

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), lead sponsor of the Armenian genocide resolution in Congress, delivered his remarks in Armenian on the House floor Wednesday as he honored the estimated 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in 1915 at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

His remarks come the same day that President Obama once again did not use the word “genocide” in his annual statement about the tragic event.

According to his office, in his Armenian address, Schiff said: “I speak to you from the floor of theHouse of Representatives in the language of your grandparents and your great-grandparents — the language they used to speak of their hopes, their dreams, their lives and their loves in the years before 1915…. I speak to you in the language of sons who watched their fathers murdered.”

On the 98th anniversary of the genocide, Schiff pointed out that not only were Armenians murdered, Armenian women were raped by the thousands.

“I speak to you in the language of the girls begging the gendarmes for mercy,” he said.

The Turkish government has refused to acknowledge the Armenian genocide ever happened, and Obama has come under harsh criticism for not using the term in his annual statements about the tragedy, where Armenian families were massacred or forced to march through the desert heat, often until their deaths.

“I speak you in the language of the children begging for a drop of water,” Schiff said.

The congressman noted there is “overwhelming evidence” — much of it from American diplomats and journalists as well as Turkish historians — that the genocide occurred and Schiff said he supports those who fight to have it given its proper commemoration.

“I speak to you in the language of those who were lost,” Schiff said. “Their voices drift across the decades, begging us to remember.”