RECOGNIZING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 171
(House of Representatives - October 29, 2019)

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  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Sherman) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. SHERMAN. Mr. Speaker, today is a great day because, after decades 
of struggle, this House will recognize the Armenian genocide, just in 
time to be viewed by the last survivors of the first genocide of the 
20th century.
  Two weeks ago, I came to this floor and I said now is the time, 
finally, to recognize the Armenian genocide because it was no longer 
the time to kowtow to Turkey. Since then, many of us have approached 
the Speaker and urged her to put this bill on the floor.
  But this great day belongs to Nancy Pelosi, our Speaker, who made the 
decision to bring it to the floor, where we will pass this resolution, 
H. Res. 296, which I and so many others introduced to this House in 
April of this year. And, of course, I have cosponsored and been an 
original cosponsor of every Armenian genocide resolution since 1997.
  We always should have recognized the Armenian genocide, but we were 
told again and again that we wouldn't do it because we have this great 
alliance with Turkey.
  Earlier this month, Turkish forces shelled to the left and then to 
the right of an American base. It seemed clear to many that they were 
ready to kill Americans. America withdrew. And this was not some well-
planned, careful, deliberate withdrawal. We left because of the Turkish 
shelling and the Turkish threats.
  Great alliance? It has been a great alliance for Turkey. We defended 
them from communism. We defended them from the Soviet Union. We 
provided them $23 billion in aid. And we are the reason why there is 
not an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq.
  They shelled to the left; they shelled to the right of an American 
military outpost.
  From 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire massacred 1.5 million 
Armenians, the first genocide of the 20th century. There is no doubt 
that this occurred. Even the administration testified before our 
committee last week.
  The massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, et cetera, was one of 
the greatest crimes of the 20th century, and this is not in dispute. 
There is no dispute that that mass death constituted a genocide because 
Raphael Lemkin, who invented the word ``genocide,'' said the Armenian 
genocide was an example--the first example, perhaps--of what he was 
talking about.
  It is time that we recognize the genocide because genocide denial is 
the last act of the genocide. First, you obliterate a people; then, you 
seek to obliterate their memory; and, finally, you seek to obliterate 
the memory of the obliteration.
  But genocide denial is also the first step in the next genocide. When 
Hitler's cadres wondered whether they could get away with the 
Holocaust, he assured them: Who today speaks of the annihilation of the 
  And it is time to recognize this genocide to remove a stain on 
America's honor because, up until now, we have hidden and refused to 
acknowledge the truth. We have been silent, all in an effort to appease 
  Turkey committed a genocide in World War I and denies it to this day. 
Germany committed a genocide during World War II and has acknowledged 
it from the 1940s.
  Germany has moved on to be a prosperous and strong democracy. Turkey 
continues to deny the genocide, then passes law prohibiting the 
discussion of the genocide; and that leads to censorship, 
authoritarianism, undercuts the rule of law, leads to corruption and a 
country that has great problems.
  Where would Germany be if it denied the Holocaust to this day? Where 
would we be if we denied the genocide of so many Native American 
  Turkey will be a great ally of the United States only when it 
recognizes the first genocide of the 20th century, only when it allows 
free discussion of its own history by its own people.
  So, today is the right day to recognize the first genocide of the 
20th century. We should have done it earlier. We should do it every 
year on the anniversary in April. But it starts here and now, and, 
finally, America can stand up along with so many other countries that 
have recognized that genocide.