U.S. Senate adopts Resolution on Genocide of 1.5 million Armenians, Syriacs, and Greeks

Sen. Menendez: "...and it is fitting and appropriate that the Senate stands on the right side of history in doing so. It commemorates the truth of the Armenian genocide."

After the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 296 on 29 October in a 405-11 vote, today the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted Senate Resolution 150 giving “recognition and remembrance” to the Armenian genocide. The non-binding resolution was submitted by Sen. Bob Menendez (D) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R). After being blocked by individual Republican senators under pressure from President Trump for the past three weeks to avoid further deteriorating the relationship with Turkey, adoption of the resolution came yesterday after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee imposed sanctions on Turkey.

Senate Resolution 150 recognizes and condemns the Genocide of 1915 on Armenian, Syriac, and Pontus-Greek Christians, planned and perpetrated by Ottoman-Turkish rule:

“Whereas the United States has a proud history of recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide, the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, and providing relief to the survivors of the campaign of genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians.”

The recognition of the 1915 genocide by the U.S. Senate is a further formal acceptance of past atrocities and the first time that the U.S. Congress formally uses the term genocide for the 1915 atrocities. It is the sense of the Senate that it is the policy of the United States:

(1) to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance;
(2) to reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States Government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide; and
(3) to encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the role of the United States in humanitarian relief efforts, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.

By recognizing the genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians, the U.S. Congress sends a clear political and moral message to Turkey to come to terms with its past and present at a time when U.S.-Turkey relationships are problematic and tense over foreign policy. The Turkish official stance is that there was no official policy and planning to kill the Armenians, Syriacs and Greeks by its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire. As there were no systematic and orchestrated killings, Turkey denies genocide and speaks of casualties on both sides in clashes with the Ottoman army.

The Genocide of 1915 perpetrated by Ottoman-Turkish rule – in collaboration with local Kurdish tribes in what is now Southeast Turkey – against Armenians, Pontus-Greeks, and Syriacs, resulted in the massacre of more than one and half million civilians. Hundreds of thousands had to endure hardships under (death) marches south to the Syrian desert and tens of thousands of women and orphaned children were taken and Islamised. The genocide of 1915 caused the social, cultural, and economic destruction of Armenians, Syriacs, and Pontus-Greeks in current day Turkey. It is a recognition which comes at a time when indigenous peoples such as the Syriacs (Arameans-Assyrians-Chaldeans), Armenians, and other vulnerable groups again face violence and decimation in Syria.