US House of Representatives Debate
U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 3540 - June 11, 1996
104th Congress - 2nd Session - House Resolution 3540
Limitation of Assistance to Turkey
Rather than confront the historical record of the Armenian genocide, the Turkish Government has chosen to instead to ignore the documented evidence. This pattern of denial offends the memory of those who perished, contradicts the historical record in our own national archives, and helps lay the groundwork for those who would commit similar atrocities in the future. Senator Pallone
Germany has acknowledged the Holocaust. Japan has apologized for its atrocities in World War II, but regrettably Turkey remains adamant in opposing measures which simply recognize the genocide of Armenians under the government that preceded the Turkish Republic. Senator Gilman
Sadly, more than 80 years after the commencement of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turkish Government, the present-day Turkish Government, and indeed, it is a separate government, not only denies the occurrence of the genocide, but also has initiated a well-financed campaign to distort and tarnish the American historical record on this subject.
our message clear to the Turkish Government, that while we need them as an ally and we respect the progress they are making in human rights, the fact is that their strategic location or the fact of the Islamic fundamentalism in their country is no license for them to try to revise the history of the Armenian genocide. Senator Pelosi
We are not trying to assign blame, but merely trying to bring attention to a consistent pattern of ignoring the truth and denying historical fact. History is important, and as we have been told, those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. Genocide is a word that we should take very seriously, that makes the soul recoil, and in some ways language refuses to describe it. Senator Blute
Turkey must stop its historical revisionism. By once and for all acknowledging the crimes against humanity committed by the Ottoman Empire, Turkey will take a great stride forward in its international relations. And Turkey would take a great stride forward for the simple cause of truth and human decency. Senator Maloney
Today I come to my colleagues and I ask again, who is to remember the Jews, the Cambodians, the Bosnians, all the lost souls of history, if every despot and dictator in our time and in the ages to come can believe that their crimes will ever be forgotten, because if they are forgotten, then in the eyes of history, they are forgiven. Senator Torricelli
As with the Nazi Holocaust, we have a responsibility to society to recount the history of the Armenian genocide so that we do not forget its victims and so that we remember man's capacity to destroy others who differ in their opinions, race, religion or ethnicity. Senator Mendez
Full Text - 104th Congress - 2nd Session - House Resolution 3540
Limitation of Assistance to Turkey
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California [Mr. Radanovich].
Mr. RADANOVICH. Mr. Chairman, in this turbulent century, we have witnessed humanity's great potential for good and bad--but the world has triumphed more often in the last 96 years than it has disappointed. And yet, while focusing on humanity's successes is always more attractive than remembering any stumbles, we as civilized peoples, countries, and nations must not deny the immorality of such stains on history as the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, today I offer an amendment which provides a practical incentive to Turkey to join the community of nations in recognition of a tragic chapter in its history. Let me explain the amendment.
This amendment links Turkey's denial of the genocide to United States foreign aid levels. In other words, the amendment states that if Turkey joins the United States in acknowledging the atrocity committed against the Armenian population, and takes all appropriate steps to honor the memory of those innocent victims, it will then receive the full portion of aid appropriated to it in H.R. 3540.
This amendment is reasonable. The levels of economic aid we propose to withhold from Turkey is approximately 2 percent or $3 million. The figure of $3 million is equal to the amount the Turkish Government spends on swaying opinion in Washington.
Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by saying that such distinguished individuals as Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, and Woodrow Wilson, have recognized the terrible tragedy suffered by Armenians from 1915-1923. Today this body has the opportunity of encouraging Turkey to respect the memory of those Armenian victims. I ask that you vote in favor of this amendment.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I am very proud to be a cosponsor of the Radanovich amendment. Again, as Mr. Radanovich mentioned, capping economic support fund aid to Turkey at $22 million, as this does, represents a cut of about 2 percent of the total U.S. military and economic assistance, approximately $3 million. We know that the government of Turkey has spent at least that amount annually in its Washington lobbying and public relations effort.
I was on the floor just the other day talking about some aspect of that. One of the things they have been doing rather successfully, is basically donating money to major universities to establish chairs of Turkish studies. Then they use that oftentimes to influence what goes on at those universities.
I was very concerned about that issue, particularly in my home State of New Jersey, because they established one of these chairs at Princeton University, one of the leading institutions of higher learning in the Nation. And yet, we have documented that some of the promotional efforts that have come out of that donation, have basically resulted in an effort to try to deny that the genocide ever took place.
Rather than confront the historical record of the Armenian genocide, the Turkish Government has chosen to instead to ignore the documented evidence. This pattern of denial offends the memory of those who perished, contradicts the historical record in our own national archives, and helps lay the groundwork for those who would commit similar atrocities in the future.
Our amendment provides a practical incentive for Turkey to join the international community in coming to terms with this tragic chapter in history. By acknowledging the Armenian genocide, Turkey will open the door to full diplomatic relations with Armenia.
I do not want to go through the historical account of the genocide because I think that we should try to limit our time here. But I just wanted to say that to this day the government of Turkey maintains this policy of denying that the genocide against the Armenians ever took place.
I, just to give you an example from my own experience, myself and Congressman Porter have on various occasions written to the Turkish embassy and talked about the genocide. And we get very curt responses suggesting that the genocide never took place, And yet the historical record is clear. There were no Nuremberg trials, and there has been no official atonement by the Turkish nation. And I think the only way that we can make this point and to try to persuade Turkey, which receives millions of dollars of U.S. aid, is to basically try to pass a resolution like this that makes them acknowledge that the genocide took place.
I just want, again, for the sake of time, I just want to point out that there have been many Americans and world leaders who have continued to point to the genocide and the example of the Armenian genocide.
Just to quote two of them here today, if I could, I wanted to mention a statement by President Reagan that was made on April 22, 1981. He 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 people, the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.
President Clinton said this year on the anniversary of the genocide, April 21, that he joins with Armenians around the world on this solemn day in commemorating the senseless deportations and massacres of 1.5 million Armenians that took place from 1915 to 1923 in the Ottoman Empire.
The bottom line is that if we do not recognize that genocide takes place, it will happen again. We know that it happens over and over again historically. One of the most disgraceful things I think is when Adolf Hitler said, before he started the preparations for the Jewish Holocaust, he mentioned that no one remembered the Armenian genocide. Therefore, there was no reason why he could not proceed.
We do not want this genocide to continue. The Turkish Government must recognize it. Once they do, I think relations between our countries will certainly be a lot better. I urge adoption of the amendment.
Mr GILMAN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to rise in support of the amendment offered by the gentleman from California [Mr. Radanovich].
Mr. Chairman, Germany has acknowledged the Holocaust. Japan has apologized for its atrocities in World War II, but regrettably Turkey remains adamant in opposing measures which simply recognize the genocide of Armenians under the government that preceded the Turkish Republic. All this amendment seeks is that the Turks take a step similar to Germany's and Japan's in acknowledging genocide crimes and honor its victims. The Armenians deserve at least that much.
Mr. BONIOR. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I want to begin by thanking my colleagues who are joining me in offering this amendment today. The gentleman from California [Mr. Radanovich], the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Blute], the gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Pallone] have all put in a great deal of work in bringing this issue to the floor.
Mr. Chairman, I rise today to urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
The Armenian genocide is one of the great tragedies of our century.
Beginning on the night of April 24 in 1915, the religious and intellectual leaders of the Armenian community of Constantinople were taken from their beds, imprisoned, tortured, and killed.
In the days that followed, the remaining males over 15 years of age were gathered in cities, towns and villages throughout Ottoman Turkey, roped together, marched to nearby uninhabited areas, and killed.
Innocent women and children were forced to march through barren wastelands--urged on by whips and clubs--denied food and water.
And when they dared to step out of line, they were repeatedly attacked, robbed, raped--and ultimately killed.
When all was said and done, one and one-half million Armenians lay dead, and a homeland which has stood for 3,000 years was nearly completely depopulated.
Mr. Chairman, we bring this amendment to the floor with the knowledge that all of us have a responsibility to remember the victims, to speak out and to make sure that tragedies like this are never allowed to happen again.
We must pause today and say `Never again.'
We can never forget that in 1939, another leader used the Armenian genocide as justification for his own genocide.
This leader said, and I quote: `I have given orders to my Death Units to exterminate without mercy or pity men, women, and children belonging to the Polish-speaking race. After all,' Adolf Hitler asked, `who today remembers the extermination of the Armenians?'
Mr. Chairman, it is up to all of us to remember.
For centuries, the Armenian people have shown courage and great strength.
The least we can do is match their courage with our commitment.
Because today, we must be their voices.
If we don't remember, nobody else will.
Mr. Chairman, some may say this amendment will alter our relationship with Turkey, and I agree--it will.
It will give the Turkish government an opportunity to join with us in acknowledging the Armenian genocide.
Such an acknowledgement will help to open the door to improved relations in the region.
We know from ethnic conflicts around the world that differences are hard to set aside until history, no matter how tragic, is acknowledged. Only then can the healing process begin.
Today, let us follow the example of Elie Wiesel, the noted Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor, who said this about the Armenian genocide:
`. . . The Turks should have understood the pain and the anger of the Armenians who are denied the right to remember . . . The Turks today are not responsible for the bloody events that took place 50 years earlier, but they are responsible for their present attitudes regarding these events.'
Mr. Chairman, this is our opportunity to confirm the historical record. This is about human rights. It's about historical fact. As this century draws to a close, we cannot allow these tragic events to be erased from our memory.
Support this amendment and stand for those who count on us to be their voices.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Mr. LIVINGSTON asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment. We have already had the Visclosky amendment, and we have treated a NATO ally, a very strong NATO ally, in such a manner that, frankly, we would not dare treat other allies or other members of the world community.But this amendment takes an act, certainly an atrocity, that was committed by an entirely different government almost 100 years ago and takes a much newer country and rubs their noses in the acts that happened so very long ago. It is just incredible, it is wrong-headed, it is bad policy. I urge that Members vote against this. It is a destructive measure which will do nothing but offend a great ally of the United States and jeopardize our Nation's security.
The measure withholds ESF moneys to Turkey unless the Turkish Government acknowledges the Armenian genocide and takes steps to honor the memory of its victims. Do we require any other nation to admit to blatant political statements? Of course not. This language does not belong in this or any other measure.
The bill already caps ESP at $25 million. It is less than half of the administration's request. The intent of this language is simple: embarrass a valuable ally for whatever political purposes or otherwise, depending on who our constituents may be.
If adopted, the language will eliminate all ESF funding for Turkey. While some in this Chamber are in favor of this, it will have a devastating impact on Turkey.
ESF funding for Turkey is extremely important. The funds will simply be used to help them address long-term structural reforms necessary to sustain growth and ease their entry into the European Customs Union. The funds will also be used to help offset the economic cost associated with the enforcement of U.S. sanctions against Iraq, and I should remind Members that the bill already significantly reduces the amount available for Turkey.
Turkey is, again, one of our most strong and most steadfast NATO allies. The strategic importance to the United States is immense. General Shalikashvili said it best: `Turkey occupies the new front line in the post-Cold War era. The strategic value to the United States of having a staunch and steadfast ally situated in a critical and strategic location in the flanks of the Middle East cannot be overstated.'
Turkey has stood with the U.S. during a number of troubling times for our Nation. During the Gulf war she was extremely important. They were one of the first countries to participate in the U.N.-sanctioned embargo of Iraq. This cost them over $20 billion. To this day the negative effects and financial loss are still being felt. Turkey allowed the use of NATO air bases, where over 2,700 strike missions against Iraq were launched. Without the use of these air bases we would not have been able to achieve the victory over Iraq without accruing greater expenses or suffering more casualties.
Since the Gulf war, Turkey's importance in assistance has grown highlighted by their hosting `Operation Provide Comfort' to protect Iraqi Kurds since its inception after the Gulf war; participating in the mission to Bosnia by training the Bosnian army, thereby furthering the critical goal of achieving military parity in the region; signing a military agreement with Israel which provides for joint military cooperation and securing Caspian oil reserves for Western consumption. These reserves provide a viable alternative to OPEC dependency.
Turkey is making serious progress in the area of human rights. It is important to point out that they are one of the only Muslim countries--if not the only Muslim country--with a free press, independent judiciary and all elements of a secular parliamentary democracy. They have established a human rights commission and a human rights ministry designed to monitor human rights. They are a signatory of the United Nations and European Conventions against torture.
Turkey has also instituted many legal reforms that reduce pretrial detention, enforce a detainee's rights to counsel at all stages of detention and ban unethical methods of interrogation such as torture. One point that is often forgotten in the debate is in the presence of a terrorist organization, the PKK, in Turkey.
The State Department's report on human rights situation in Turkey, while it raised many concerns about the situation there, did raise some important points. Continued U.S. support for Turkey is essential, and the PKK represents a major threat to Turkey's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
It would be wrong for us, Mr. Chairman, to include in this bill such inflammatory language as this amendment poses on Turkey.
The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Louisiana [Mr. Livingston] has expired.
(By unanimous consent, Mr. Livingston was allowed to proceed for 1 additional minute.)
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Whether one supports aid to Turkey or not, one should agree that this is not the forum for such rhetoric. The substance of this amendment has been defeated time and time again in years past, and it should be defeated again.
I urge the defeat of this amendment.
Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, this year marks the 81st anniversary of the Armenian genocide, an act of mass murder that took 1.5 million Armenian lives and led to the exile of the Armenian Nation from its historic homeland.
It is of vital importance that we never forget what happened to the Armenian people. Indeed the only thing we can do for the victims is to remember, and we forget at our own peril.
The Armenian genocide, which began 15 years after the start of the twentieth century, was the first act of genocide of this century, but it was far from the last. The Armenian genocide was followed by the Holocaust, Stalin's purges, and other acts of mass murder around the world.
Adolf Hitler himself said that the world's indifference to the slaughter in Armenia indicated that there would be no global outcry if he undertook the mass murder of Jews and others he considered less than human. And he was right. It was only after the Holocaust that the cry `Never again' arose throughout the world. But it was too late for millions of victims. Too late for the 6 million Jews. Too late for the 1.5 million Armenians.
Unfortunately, there are still some who refuse to admit that this genocide occurred. The Turkish Government has actively denied that the Armenian genocide happened. This amendment will encourage the Turkish Government to end this campaign of denial and recognize the suffering of the Armenian people.
Mr. Speaker, after the genocide, the Armenian people cried out, `Let us never forget. Let us always remember the atrocities that have taken the lives of our parents and our children and our neighbors.' I rise today to make sure that those cries were not uttered in vain.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, will the gentlewoman yield?
Mrs. LOWEY. I yield to the gentleman from Louisiana.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. I know that the gentlewoman is concerned about the genocide, as we all should be, by an event that happened almost a hundred years ago. But does the gentlewoman feel that the country of Israel, whose constituents suffered greatly at the hand of the Holocaust, as the gentlewoman well knows, is any less interested in such genocide. Is she aware that Israel has just engaged in some very close negotiations for a warm relationship with Turkey?
Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to know that, and I am pleased that there has been some negotiations and discussions and important arrangements made for security between Israel and Turkey, and I would hope that this amendment would encourage the Turks to certainly acknowledge the Armenian genocide and would take a stronger role in freeing Cyprus and in speaking out and acting against some of the human rights abuses.
I understand, Mr. Chairman, the importance of Turkey, in fact, in our regional needs. I understand the importance of Turkey as an important ally. And what we hope to do with this amendment, as with other actions that we hope to take, is send a very strong signal to Turkey although they are an important ally, they must certainly stand up and speak out against all kinds of human rights abuses.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, if the gentlewoman would yield further, perhaps the gentlewoman read the article appearing in the local press about 4 or 5 days ago in which it was indicated that actually Turkey is strengthening its ties with Israel because the United States, for whatever reason, is proving to be a much less reliable ally?
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, would the gentlewoman yield?
Mrs. LOWEY. Certainly I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, the only point I wanted to make very briefly is, as my colleagues know, in the same way that the German Government, which today of course, as my colleagues know, could hardly be seen as the successor to the Nazi regime, constantly makes reference and apologizes for what the Nazis did to the Jews and other people in Eastern Europe, and as a result we have a very cleansing effect, if my colleagues will, on the German people and on the German nation. We would like to see the Turkish Government do the same thing. They are the successor to the Ottoman government. Rather than every time we write to them or bring up the genocide, they are coming back to us and saying, and I will do it from my own experience, that it never occurred; that they would acknowledge that this happened in their history and go through this same cleansing process.
So I think the example of the Nazi Holocaust means that they should acknowledge it, not that they should reject that it ever occurred. And I thank the gentlewoman from New York.
Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. BUNN of Oregon. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Mr. BUNN of Oregon asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. BUNN of Oregon. Mr. Chairman, I am not sure whether we are here to set foreign policy or we are here to have a history lesson, but we are getting quite a history lesson today. Others will talk about the negatives of the Ottoman Empire, without question, but there are some other things that are left out in the discussion.
For example, when we are told about the Nazi regime and the current German Government, if we looked at a map of Germany before and after the war, it would look fairly similar. If we looked at the Ottoman Empire before and after, we would not see anything that was even close. The Ottoman Empire included Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and many other territories.
The Ottomans chose the wrong allies in World War I. Their enemies, who were our allies, were not just in the war to defeat the Ottomans, they were also in the war to possess the Ottoman lands. Italy, Greece, France, England, Russia, and others eyed the territory of the Ottoman Empire. Russia wanted Constantinople, which was the key to controlling access to the Black Sea. France wanted, and got, Syria and Lebanon. England wanted Iraq and the Persian coast to protect their interests in India.
With the defeat in World War I, Mr. Chairman, the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist. It was not just one government following another. The empire ceased to exist, just as the Byzantine Empire before them no longer existed. The Sultan had been forced to surrender to the European powers, and the European powers were in the process of dividing the spoils. A group of Turks, led by Ataturk, were unwilling to have their land occupied by conquering armies, so they raised their own force and fought the authority of the Sultan and of the European powers. Turkey was born from this effort.
Mr. Chairman, today's democracy in Turkey is no more responsible for the actions of the Ottoman Empire than the Soviet Union was responsible for the actions of the czars or the United States was responsible for the actions of England before the birth of our Nation.
Mr. Chairman, history is important and it should not be ignored, but neither should we dig up something from 80 years ago and ask a nation that did not exist to apologize for what it did not do.
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment. I would like to tell Members why. I think it is very important for us to note, and every opportunity we have we should take advantage of, to reject genocide wherever it occurs.
Sadly, more than 80 years after the commencement of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turkish Government, the present-day Turkish Government, and indeed, it is a separate government, not only denies the occurrence of the genocide, but also has initiated a well-financed campaign to distort and tarnish the American historical record on this subject.
Mr. Chairman, passage of this amendment will serve to deter the Turkish government from pursuing their unconscionable coverup of this internationally recognized crime against humanity. But do not take my word for it. Let us reference some American Presidents and how they referred to the Armenian genocide.
President Reagan, at the remembrance of victims of the Holocaust on April 22, 1981, said:
Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it, and like too many other persecutions of too many other people, the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.
In 1990, April 20, President Bush said:
Their history, though marked by a number of tragedies, nonetheless reflects their faith and strength and the resilience of their tradition. Those tragedies include,and we are talking about the Armenians now, their tragedies include most prominently the terrible massacre suffered in 1915 to 1923 at the hands of the rulers of the Ottoman Empire. I call upon all peoples to work to prevent future acts of inhumanity against mankind, and my comments of June, 1988, reflect the depth of my feeling for the Armenian people and the suffering they have endured.
President Clinton said on April 24, 1996:
I join with Armenians around the world on this solemn day in commemorating the senseless deportation and massacres of 1.5 million Armenians that took place from 1915 to 1923 under the Ottoman Empire. Tragically, our century has repeatedly born witness to man's senseless inhumanity to man. Together we mourn the terrible loss of so many innocent lives.
There are two issues here, Mr. Chairman. One is the issue of the Armenian genocide. And yes, we should not hold this Government responsible for something that happened 80 years ago. But we can ask this Government not to try to revise history. We can ask this government to stop its campaign to distort the historical record on the Armenian genocide. That is why this amendment is so important. I have heard it characterized a variety of different ways, that it would stop assistance to Turkey, et cetera. That is why I would like to read the amendment, Mr. Chairman.
Not more than $22 million of the funds appropriated in this act under the heading `economic support fund' may be made available to the government of Turkey, except when it is made known to the Federal official having authority to obligate or expend such funds that the Government of Turkey has (1) joined the United States in acknowledging the atrocity committed against the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923; and (2) has taken all appropriate steps to honor the memory of the victims of the Armenian genocide.
So this is not about eliminating assistance to Turkey. This is about cutting back from $25 million to $22 million. Once gain, I think it is most appropriate for this Congress to follow the lead of a bipartisan list of American Presidents and the bipartisan support that we have had on this issue for a long period of time in making our message clear to the Turkish Government, that while we need them as an ally and we respect the progress they are making in human rights, the fact is that their strategic location or the fact of the Islamic fundamentalism in their country is no license for them to try to revise the history of the Armenian genocide, not to disregard the rights of the people in Armenia for humanitarian assistance by their blockade of Armenia.
Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this important amendment.
Mr. BLUTE. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, tonight I rise to offer my strong support for this important amendment that is before us here today. The amendment we will vote on recognizes the Armenian genocide by simply reducing the amount of economic aid available to Turkey until they acknowledge the horrible events that occurred during the Armenian genocide.
Mr. Chairman, those of us who are offering this amendment know full well that Turkey is a strong ally and a strategic ally of the United States, but the $3 million reduced represents a minimal amount of aid. Turkey will still be eligible to receive $22 million overall. It certainly does not in any way restrict the President in the conduct of our foreign policy, and it does not place Turkey at an economic disadvantage. Furthermore, it does not touch one penny of military aid.
What it does do, Mr. Chairman, is link economic aid to Turkey's willingness to confront its history and acknowledge the Armenian genocide as a terrible event in the history of the Ottoman Empire that should not be brushed aside cavalierly. Consistently and unfortunately, our ally, Turkey, has neglected to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. I recognize that this is a difficult issue, political issue, in Turkey. However, the genocide of 1.5 million innocent people deserves recognition by this House of Representatives. No one today denies the Holocaust of Eastern Europe; at least no one worthy of our attention or respect.
Similarly, no one should deny the Armenian genocide. We are not trying to assign blame, but merely trying to bring attention to a consistent pattern of ignoring the truth and denying historical fact. History is important, and as we have been told, those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. Genocide is a word that we should take very seriously, that makes the soul recoil, and in some ways language refuses to describe it.
Mr. Chairman, tonight I am proud to join with my colleagues, the gentleman from California [Mr. Radanovich], the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Bonior], and the gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Pallone] in supporting this amendment and honoring the memories of those who perished in this genocide, and encouraging and urging our friend and ally, Turkey, to acknowledge this fact of history.
Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the amendment, and I commend my colleagues for bringing it to the floor.
Earlier today, we debated and overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan amendment that will cut United States economic assistance to Turkey unless that nation allows humanitarian aid to flow to Armenia. Turkey, an ally to the United States, can and must take a humane step and end its blockade of Armenia. In the same vein, Turkey can and must end its blockade of history. The Armenian genocide was a fact.
The genocide was substantiated by detailed press accounts of the day, as well as by thousands of pages of documents from historical archives all over the world. I have personally sat down with constituents who survived the genocide and listened to their tragic stories.
We all read recently about a Princeton University professor who is the leading academic spokesman for those who deny the Armenian genocide. It was troubling to learn, of course, that his research is bought and paid for by the Turkish Government.
Turkey must stop its historical revisionism. By once and for all acknowledging the crimes against humanity committed by the Ottoman Empire, Turkey will take a great stride forward in its international relations. And Turkey would take a great stride forward for the simple cause of truth and human decency.
Let us make sure that this great House speaks out tonight for truth and justice.
Support the Radanovich-Bonior amendment.
Mr. TORRICELLI. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I have never heard of such a modest request, more simple in form or in substance. The Armenian people simply want recorded in history what every schoolchild learns at the earliest stages of their education. They seek no revenge and they come forward with no rancor. They recognize that the dead die twice when the crimes against them are not recorded.
In this case, not a few individuals, not just simply a few forgotten souls, but hundreds of thousands, indeed in excess of 1 million, a whole people helplessly locked inside churches, surrounded in villages, hunted down in the streets, the Armenian people suffered the first great genocide of the 20th century.
To some it is a distant part of history, but to those who still live with the memories, to those who lost mothers and fathers and other relatives, it is a haunting nightmare. Indeed, Mr. Chairman, for those who care about history, and here in the final days of the 20th century are committed to the concept that the worst of our time will not be repeated, it is more than relevant. The Armenian genocide is compelling.
Indeed, the story has been told every year in which I have served in this Congress, and it will be told every year until justice is done. In contemplating the genocide against the Jews, Hitler's first question was, `Who remembers the Armenians?'
Today I come to my colleagues and I ask again, who is to remember the Jews, the Cambodians, the Bosnians, all the lost souls of history, if every despot and dictator in our time and in the ages to come can believe that their crimes will ever be forgotten, because if they are forgotten, then in the eyes of history, they are forgiven.
Mr. Chairman, there are some things that must never be forgotten. Crimes against humanity are one of them. I know every Member of this House wants only friendship with the Turkish people. They have been our ally. They have stood with America. But earlier tonight, in arguing on the corridor act, we asked justice in that it is a despicable crime to deny humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering. At other times we cite the occupation of Cyprus, aggression in the Aegean, crimes against the Kurds. There is a compelling argument that a pattern is developing with the Turkish people against her neighbors.
It began with the Armenians. It continues against the Cypriots and the Kurds, and in this Congress we do no favor to our friends in Turkey to deny this simple truth.
So tonight, Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment vowing that every Member of this House, every year until it is done. We will rise until justice is done for the Armenian people and history is written as history occurred.
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, we have debated the so-called Armenian genocide issue for the past 13 years. I can remember when I stood at this table with a stack of books this high from historical experts who had studied the so-called Armenian genocide and took issue with the findings of the majority of the speakers here tonight. They do not believe the conclusions that have been reached by the legislation that has been proposed. The fact is, there was a lot of killing on both sides, and there is enough blame to go around. There is no question that a lot of Armenians were killed, but there were also a lot of Turkish people that were killed as well.
Now, the fact of the matter is, there is a divergence of opinion on this issue. Historians from the Middle East come to different conclusions about the issue. And for us to start penalizing an ally like Turkey when there is this huge division of opinion among historical experts, historians, just does not make any sense to me. I could see us kicking somebody in the teeth who is an enemy of the United States, but to go back 70 years, 80 years and start dredging up old wounds and old issues that is going to divide the people in that part of the world makes no sense to me. It just makes no sense whatsoever.
If there was conclusive evidence that the Armenian genocide did take place the way it is depicted here tonight, then I would say let us go ahead with it. But there is a huge divergence of opinion. We had a hearing before the international operations committee just a few weeks ago and we had historians from Turkey, historians from other parts of the Middle East who made it their life's goal to get to the bottom of all of this, and they had very strong differing opinions. It was split right down the middle. So for the U.S. Congress to take one position on this, the position that is being proposed here tonight and penalizing one of the best allies we have, Turkey, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. I yield to the gentleman from Louisiana.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I know the gentleman from Indiana is schooled on foreign affairs and I know that perhaps he has the answers to these questions, but the thought has occurred to me, we have just, at the behest of the President of the United States, opened up diplomatic relationships with Vietnam. Was there any precondition that the Vietnamese own up to the massive numbers of people that they killed in the revolutions of the last 40 years?
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. There was absolutely none. As a matter of fact, 2,300 POW-MIA's were not accounted for, as every President before demanded.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. And perhaps the gentleman could tell me, has there every been any condition on Boris Yeltsin to own up to the terrible genocide imposed by the Stalin regime against 30 million Russian people and perhaps no telling how many Polish people and other people throughout the CIS today?
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. No, there was none.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Was there any precondition on foreign aid going to Russia?
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. There was no precondition whatsoever.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. As a matter of fact, was there any precondition on any assistance that we might have sent to our allies of today penalizing the French for what Napoleon might have done or for the British or for what the British Empire might have done throughout the world when they controlled the world, or any despot that might have lived in the last 150 years? Is the gentleman aware of any other country that we have penalized for something that happened 100 years ago or more and said that we are simply not going to honor our commitments to them as a modern day ally?
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. My colleague makes a very, very valid point. What we are doing is dredging up an issue that happened 70 years ago, if it happened at all, and there is a divergence of opinion, and we are penalizing a friend based upon that erroneous information. I thank the gentleman very much for his comments.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. PALLONE. These is a big distinction between what the gentleman was citing and what we are talking about here today. We are talking about a crime against humanity, genocide. We are talking about a country that made a concerted effort to wipe out a people and a country that has refused to recognize that that occurred.
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, I have studied this issue and debated this issue for 13 years, and I am telling you that we have brought history book after history book after history book and stuck them up on this table, and there is a strong divergence of opinion about what happened, and that is the problem. Therein lies the problem, because there is no conclusive evidence on one side or the other, and for us to penalize our friends because of inconclusive evidence makes no sense.
Mr. CALLAHAN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words, and I rise in opposition to the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, this debate tonight is not over really whether or not Turkey or some people in Turkey some 80 years ago performed an atrocity on some people. There is no doubt. History documents that. They tell us that that is the fact. We agree that it was an atrocity, all of us here tonight. So the debate is not whether or not the atrocity took place, but whether or not this is 1996 or 1923. Yes, the atrocities took place, but at the same time it is not what took place then, it is what is taking place today.
If we are going to demand that Turkey apologize for something that took place that many decades ago, why do we not at the same time we praise them for some of the good things that they have done? Why do we not look at the fact that history has reflected that Turkey has been a loyal NATO ally for decades? Why are we not praising Turkey for its essential support during the gulf war when it saved thousands of Americans lives? Why are we not standing by Turkey because they stood by us. When the Soviet Union was shattering their borders, they stood by us.
The gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Bonior] made an excellent point. Today's Turks did not commit these atrocities. Today's Turks are hosting Provide Comfort to provide Iraqi Kurds comfort from Saddam Hussein. Today's Turks signed a military agreement with Israel, a key United States ally in the Middle East. Today's Turks are sworn to fight on the side of American soldiers to protect our interests in Europe. Today's Turks saved hundreds of American lives during the gulf war.
This amendment is an unbalanced amendment, and it fails to differentiate the past from the future. Why do we not, as the gentleman from Louisiana [Mr. Livingston] suggested, talk about Vietnam? We are trying now to do some business with Vietnam to open trade relations. Why are we not demanding an apology from them? We are trying to build power plants in North Korea to stop them from nuclear proliferation of power plants. Why are we not first demanding from them before we go in there with KEDO and say you, you must issue an apology to the United States of America? Why are we not doing it to Japan? Why are we not doing it to Germany? Why are we just picking on Turkey?
Mr. Chairman, I do not stand here and defend for one minute the fact that these atrocities took place, but I do stand here and defend this bill and to tell you that this is 1996. Our military, our national government is insisting and hoping that we will let them handle foreign policy, we will let them address this issue. Sooner or later, they will apologize. But it should not be in this piece of legislation. Let us not send a message to the world that just because you did something 60, 70, 80, 100 years ago that we are not going to consider you in ally anymore, but rather we are going to condemn you.
This is a good bill as it stands. We already have one limiting amendment to Turkey already, and this one just goes a little too far. So we worked hard, we worked long, we tried to reach some reasonable agreement on both sides of the aisle with respect to all of the issues in this bill, and I would encourage this body to reject this amendment because it simply goes too far, and unnecessarily so.
Mr. WISE. Mr. Chairman, I rise to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in very strong opposition to this amendment for all the reasons that have been outlined by the chair and others, but for some others as well.
If we are going to talk about history, I would urge new Members particularly not to make some of the mistakes of history, mistakes such as I made. I voted for this amendment the first time I was here, my first session, and then I started to look at it more thoroughly. Please, before you vote on this, look at a map, a map of the world, and look at Turkey and look at where Turkey is situated. Of course, it was even more clear-cut in the old days, the old days being what, 5 years ago. It was even more clear-cut that it was the Soviet Union that we were up against and Turkey was like a knife blade in the flank of the Soviet Union, listing posts for us, staging area, but someone that we counted upon as we contended with the Soviet menace. Well, of course, we do not have that anymore. But we do have a very, very real situation in the world today.
Continue to look at that map, because while you are looking at the former Soviet Union, you are also looking at a nation that borders Iran, a nation that borders Iraq, a nation in its proximity to Syria, all very bad actors on the world scene. Yet this is a nation that we are going to drag up a 70- or 80-year dispute that is intensive, that is vitriolic, that is red hot to all parties involved, and we are going to insert ourselves right in the middle of it? It is insane to me.
I also ask my colleagues to look at the present day situation in Turkey. Turkey is not a stable country. We like to think that it is, but its democracy is undergoing some rough times right now as it deals with what some of those bordering nations have not dealt with very well, as it deals with the pressure of modern day fundamentalism, the fundamentalist Muslim movement that threatened the government when it was up for election this time.
In the last election, which was fairly recently, within the last year, the Prime Minister's party lost, that party which was sympathetic to the United States. There is a coalition that has been cobbled together. That coalition incidentally may fall, based upon some things that have happened recently. That coalition was cobbled together. In many ways, that is all that stands between having a secular state and one that is a Muslim fundamentalist state, another state which, incidentally, you will not have to have this debate, because if that happens, Turkey will no longer be on the board as an ally of the United States.
I do not have to go too far back to the Persian Gulf War, if we all remember 500,000 men and women from the United States in the Persian Gulf fighting against Saddam Hussein. Who was the person we were looking to then for a lot of our assistance? It was Turkey. Where is it that we still have a lot of our materiel based right now? It is Turkey. Yet, this is a nation that we are going to bring up this historical dispute, kick around a little bit, threaten governments and say, I am sure things will be the same as normal.
I do not know about the history of it. Genocide is terrible wherever it occurs, and everyone is going to have to form his or her own opinions. I do think that the chairman, full committee chairman and others have pointed out that there are many other instances of genocide as well where similar action has not been taken. But I can tell you this. There are going to be a lot of us that deeply regret this resolution passing, if indeed it passes, if indeed it should be enacted. We will cause, simply by passing this resolution in the House, particularly based upon what occurred just a few minutes ago, by passing this resolution will be enough to cause significant mischief in the foreign relations between this country and Turkey.
Mr. Chairman, I just beg my colleagues not to pass this resolution. I would once again urge new Members, those of you who have been here less than 4 years, please, please, go look at that map before you come over to this floor for a vote and look at the significance of the vote you are casting.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. Chairman, this amendment will ensure that the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian genocide will not be forgotten. By telling their history and evoking their names we protect them and indeed ourselves from those who would willfully erase from history their lives and the tragic events which occurred between 1915 and 1923.
As with the Nazi Holocaust, we have a responsibility to society to recount the history of the Armenian genocide so that we do not forget its victims and so that we remember man's capacity to destroy others who differ in their opinions, race, religion or ethnicity.
Genocide is the most egregious crime. It is not a crime of passion or revenge, but rather of hate--its innocent victims are guilty only of being born to a different mother.
Since 1923 Turkey has virtually denied the Armenian genocide. There has been no justice and there were no Nuremberg trials for the victims and the families of the Armenian genocide. This amendment is not about cutting aid to Turkey, it is about justice for Turkey's Armenian victims.
Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us:
The history of persecution is a history of endeavors to cheat nature, to make water run up hill, to twist a rope of sand. The martyr cannot be dishonored. Every lash inflicted is a tongue of fame, every prison a more illustrious abode; every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side. Hours of sanity and consideration are always arriving to communities, as to individuals when truth is seen and martyrs are justified.
This amendment gives us an opportunity to make the words of Mr. Emerson true. Support the victims and the families of the Armenian genocide and support this amendment.
Mr. MANTON. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this very important amendment introduced by Rep. Radanovich. The Armenian genocide of 1915-1923 is a tragic event that should never have taken place. This amendment simply states that the country of Turkey should recognize the devastating event that took place 81 years ago as a genocide. It is of vital importance that we do not allow any country to view this event casually.
This amendment would ensure that Turkey take steps to honor the memories of the victims of Armenian genocide. Turkey must come to terms with this tragic event in history. Not only would this amendment enable Turkey to properly remember those who were brutally killed by the Ottoman Empire, it will open doors for full diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment would not only persuade the Turks to properly recognize the Armenian genocide, it would lay the groundwork for a peaceful existence for future generations in those two countries. This amendment does not change history, it simply asks the Turks to join those who still live with the nightmare and brutal memories of what happened to Armenian people over 80 years ago.
I urge my colleagues to support this honorable amendment.
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Bonior amendment. It presents a practical approach for Turkey to finally come to terms with a terrible chapter in the Armenian genocide.
Eighty-one years is far far too long to deny the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians. And yet to this day, the Government of Turkey has remained silent--a silence that is deafening.
The Bonior amendment provides a proper incentive for Turkey to finally end the silence. It also sends a message throughout the world that despots cannot and will not get away with crimes against humanity.
History shows that we cannot forget the past lest we be doomed to repeat it. Only through remembering and acknowledging the past can we stop such horrible crimes against humanity from happening again. I urge my colleagues to vote for the amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from California [Mr. Radanovich].
The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the noes appeared to have it.
Mr. RADANOVICH. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote, and pending that I make the point of order that a quorum is not present.
The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the rule, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from California [Mr. Radanovich] will be postponed.
The point of no quorum is considered withdrawn.