(Bill Paparian, former mayor of Pasadena CA, continues his guest posts on the continuing refusal of the US Congress to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide happened)
Adam Schiff, Howard Berman, and Nancy Pelosi are perpetrating a cruel hoax upon the Armenian-American community. And we have allowed them to get away with it. With a wink and a nod they solemnly profess their public support of an Armenian Genocide Resolution. Nevertheless, they have absolutely no intention of ever bringing the Armenian Genocide Resolution to the floor of the United States Congress for a vote, let alone bringing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where it was referred on March 17, 2009. It’s a fraud, plain and simple. And like a parlor magician who uses the device of misdirection, they seek to divert our attention away from their clever tricks as they tout their complicit colleagues announcements of support or when they denounce opposition to the resolution.
One example can be found most recently with Mr. Schiff when, on December 17, 2009, he attacked Turkish lobby opposition to a resolution which he knows will simply never be voted on. We have been deceived long enough by these shysters. Am I being too harsh? Then let Mr. Schiff, and Mr. Berman, and Ms. Pelosi prove me wrong. Stop the limp-wristed shenanigans and put the resolution on the agenda of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and then bring it to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. Otherwise it’s time to put an end to this charade and move on. It’s time for us to stop wallowing in this bottomless pit of false promises and broken dreams.
It’s an integral part of the DNA of Armenian-Americans to be respectful to our elected representatives, to be loyal and faithful citizens and hope that our government will be nice to us. One way in which this unfortunate pathology has manifested itself is in our perpetual hope that the United States government will become a champion of the Armenian cause with regard to relations with the Turkish government. And so we lobby candidates and office-holders in what has been, up to now, a perpetual merry-go-round. We give them our money. We give them our votes. They show up at community events with meaningless proclamations and issue empty statements of support. And ultimately we are betrayed. The cycle continues unabated and the agenda for justice for the Armenian nation never advances forward. What have we been waiting for? Why not simply proclaim “Mission Accomplished” and move on?
We have to convince ourselves that we cannot rely on anyone else to help us in our fight for justice. We have to be self-reliant. No one can do for us what we must do for ourselves! We must be uncompromising in dealings with our government. We can no longer remain quietly on the sidelines while cold-blooded bureaucrats sell off our children’s future. Speaking with a single voice, Armenian-Americans must reject any further attempt to water down our nation’s just demands on Turkey.
It’s time to declare that the record is abundantly clear: the Armenian Genocide has long been recognized by the government of the United States, from contemporaneous communications from the American Ambassador to Turkey to the Secretary of State in Washington, DC, up to President Ronald Reagan’s proclamation in 1981.
On July 16, 1915, at 1 PM, the American Ambassador in Constantinople sent the following message to the Secretary of State:
“Deportation of and excesses against peaceful Armenians is increasing and from harrowing reports of eye witnesses it appears that a campaign of race extermination is in progress under the pretext of reprisal against rebellion.”
On April 22, 1981, in Proclamation 4838, President Ronald Reagan said:
“Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it – and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples – the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.”
There is the official record of the United States Department of State and the proclamation from the President of the United States that what happened to our nation was a Genocide. Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury we rest our case. Mission Accomplished. Now let us finally move on!
As a young Armenian-American activist one of my earliest lessons was to learn the three R’s of the Armenian Genocide: recognition; reparation; and return. It’s time to declare victory on the first “R”, recognition, and advance our struggle to the second and third “R’s,” reparation and return. Here’s one example. Passed down to me from my late maternal grandfather, Mihrtad Dickranian, is the deed to my family’s residence in Izmit, Turkey. On December 16, 2008, I wrote to the Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles a letter and enclosed a copy of the deed to my family’s house. I explained that during World War I, my family was deported from Izmit, that it was my understanding that there was a government accounting prepared of the property owned by the deportees, and that I wanted to know what happened with this asset of my family. The tone of my letter was tactful and straightforward. I made no accusations of criminal misconduct. Yet, more than a year later, the Consul General has not responded.
Why not? I’m sure the Consul General forwarded the letter to Ankara. And I’m equally sure that the Turkish Foreign Ministry made a most sober assessment of the implications presented by my simple inquiry. How many other property deeds like the late Mihrtad Dickranian’s are in the hands of the descendants of Genocide survivors? And what is the present day value of these property holdings that were stolen from citizens of Turkey like my grandfather by their own government? They are loosing sleep in Ankara over the calculations of the value of our collective claims! I will relentlessly pursue an accounting to what happened to my family’s home. Make no mistake, this is no Quixotic endeavor. But this is the individual pursuit of one determined person. I know that there must be countless other property deeds in the possession of others in the Armenian-American community. There must be other documentation of the losses suffered by our fallen nation. Why not make reparations and return part of the agenda when Armenian-American community leaders meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Why not declare the opening of a new front in our campaign for justice?