|8:19 PM EDT||
Frank Pallone, D-NJ 6th
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I come to the House floor this evening to mark the fact that we now have 100 cosponsors of House Resolution 193, a bill reaffirming support of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This legislation seeks to educate on the horrors of the crimes against humanity of genocide and, by educating, helping to prevent genocide from happening again. It is common knowledge that history repeats itself, and some of the worst crimes against humanity
are no exception to this rule.
Mr. Speaker, as the cochair and founder of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, I have been involved in genocide recognition efforts for the past decade. The caucus is 125 members strong and has been instrumental in the education of my colleagues on the issue of Armenian genocide. We have organized floor speeches every year on April 24, we have circulated a yearly letter asking the President to use the word ``genocide'' in his yearly April 24 address, and, most importantly, we were very
close in the year 2000 in passing legislation officially recognizing the Armenian genocide.
That resolution in 2000 did not come to the House floor for a vote due to a decision by the leadership. If it were not for that decision, the legislation would have passed overwhelmingly, in my opinion.
As I mentioned, the Armenian Caucus sends a yearly letter to the President asking him to use the word ``genocide'' in his yearly April 24 commemoration. President Bush, like President Clinton before him, made a campaign promise to give the Armenian genocide its due recognition, but then they both recanted. Both presidents avoided the use of the word ``genocide'' in their statements.
This year, 168 Members of Congress, well over one-third of the total number of Members serving, asked President Bush to use the word ``genocide'' last month. He instead characterized the worst crime ever to befall the Armenian people as a ``great calamity.'' I must say I reject this characterization as simplistic and also demeaning, and I hope my colleagues in the House will do the same. If they do, they have the chance to act by joining the 100 Members who have signed on to H.R. 193 and take
a stand to properly recognize the worst crimes against humanity.
I use the plural ``crimes,'' because this legislation is not only about the Armenians. In the bill it states, ``the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act marked a principal stand by the United States against the crime of genocide and an important step towards ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide and the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, among others, will be used to help prevent future genocides.''
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, we have not come together as a world community to eradicate the horrific crime of systematic destruction of an entire people. Every generation in the last 100 years has seen the brutal realities of genocide, but none have fully learned from it. Passing House Resolution 193, in my opinion, will help to educate and hopefully help to stop the crime of genocide in the future.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that we have obtained cosponsors that will bear great credence to this bill. H.R. 193 is currently under consideration in the Committee on the Judiciary, with the gentleman from Wisconsin (Chairman SENSENBRENNER) and the ranking member, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) on as cosponsors. Also among the 100 cosponsors are the minority leader, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi), and the former minority leader and presidential
candidate, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Gephardt). All of my colleagues on a bipartisan basis will be instrumental in passing this bill, but it is nice to see some early support from a very diverse group of Members on a bipartisan basis.
The title of House Resolution 193 includes the word ``genocide,'' but the heart of the bill is about humanity. It takes humanity to overcome the ignorance that spurs the evil crime of genocide, learning about another culture instead of fearing it. It takes humanity to bridge the gap of hate that exists between a warring people.
We have seen this work in the last century. One of the worst crimes ever to be committed, the Holocaust against the Jews, is the best example of how some good can come from a terrible evil. At the end of World War II, Germany was vanquished as a Nation and its citizens were forced to accept the reality of what Hitler had done. The fact is, Germans as a people accepted that something horrific had taken place, and they accepted it. Last year, the Holocaust Museum in Berlin became a reality. Sixty
years after the Holocaust, peace was made where war had begun.
The lessons of the relationship of the Jewish and German people should be applied to the rest of the victims and perpetrators of the crime of genocide all around the world. This is especially true, Mr. Speaker, in Armenia and Turkey. It has been 88 years since the beginning of the genocide, and after 33 U.S. State legislatures, over a dozen governments around the globe and vast documentation in our national archives, the Turkish government still will not recognize the Armenian genocide. They
have instead established a deliberate campaign of revisionist history to try to commit the last act of genocide, the destruction of culture and history.
I ask that the Turkish government give up its futile effort and for my colleagues to join me in recognizing the worst crimes against humanity.