Newsroom
Statements
Hearings
Articles

Rep. Smith Chairs Helsinki Commission Hearing on Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON—At a hearing convened today by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, Chairman Chris Smith (NJ-04) and other lawmakers examined denialism of the Armenian Genocide by the Government of Turkey and the decades-long effort to seek accountability.

“The Armenian genocide is the only genocide of the 20th century in which a nation that was decimated by genocide has been subject to the ongoing outrage of a massive campaign of genocide denial, openly sustained by state authority,” said Smith, who called today’s hearing and chaired Congress’s first-ever hearing on the Armenian Genocide in 2000. “Sadly, the Turkish government has driven this campaign of denial, and has done so over a course of decades.”

Smith continued, “I must respond to President Obama. On Tuesday his aides met with Armenian leaders and made it clear that once again he will not recognize the Armenian genocide. This is in direct contradiction to the promises he made before becoming president—and in order to become president.

“While a candidate, in 2008 the President made passionate statements in support of genocide recognition… these are beautiful words which echo hollowly today,” Smith said. “The president’s abandonment of this commitment is unconscionable and cynical. With Germany and the EU lining up to do the right thing, our government needs to do likewise. Sadly, after the President’s powerful promise, he is following, not leading – or rather, we are not even following.” Read Chairman Smith’s full opening statement.

Witnesses testifying at the hearing focused on the sustained campaign of the Turkish government to deny the Armenian genocide and its impact on Armenian-Turkish relations and foreign policy in the region.

“Turkey’s denialism of its past and making it an essential part of its foreign policy is not simply a moral abomination; it represents a threat to democracy, stability and security, not only in Turkey but in the region too,” testified Dr. Taner Akçam, a Turkish scholar who holds the chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. “The refusal [of the U.S.] to recognize past injustices is fundamentally undemocratic and contributes to the destabilization of Turkey and the region. How can the United States, which prides itself on its exceptionalism in supporting liberal values and human rights at home and across the world, justify a position at odds with its own democratic values?”

“Far too often, over the past several decades, under Turkey's arm-twisting here in Washington, DC, official discussions of the Armenian Genocide were framed in denialist terms, on the basis of Ankara's artificially contrived ‘debate’ about whether there was an Armenian Genocide,” said Kenneth Hachikian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America. “Turkey's denial of truth and justice for the Armenian Genocide remains the central issue between Turks and Armenians, the one that must be openly acknowledged, honestly discussed, and fairly resolved for there to be real, sustained progress in relations between these two nations.”

“How did denial start and how did it last as long as it has?  The answer is simple—successive Turkish governments have used the issue to instill fear, promote racism, distract their population from the truth, and avoid progress,” said Van Krikorian, co-chairman of the board of trustees of the Armenian Assembly of America. “Having re-written their own history, they are now afraid to tell the truth as they will lose votes and risk power. Tragically, this pattern has found accomplices, as Turkish leaders have openly threatened countries which do not deny the Armenian Genocide.  Those who bend to bullying continue to be bullied. Those who do not, show honor and backbone.”

Additional witnesses who testified at the hearing, “A Century of Denial: Armenian Genocide and the Ongoing Quest for Justice,” included Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou, visiting associate professor of conflict resolution at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, and Mrs. Karine Shnorhokian, representative of the Genocide Education Project.


RECENT NEWS

Unequivocal Support for Israel

March 2, 2015
more

Statement on Tragic Synagogue Slayings

November 20, 2014
more

Statement by Commissioner Representative Mike McIntyre at the OSCE PA Fall Meeting

October 5, 2014
more

Crackdown on Civil Society Threatens Democracy

September 10, 2014
more

Chairman Cardin floor statement on 2014 OSCE PA Annual Session

July 9, 2014
more

15th Anniversary of the Bytyqi Brother Murders in Serbia

July 8, 2014
more

Ukraine Elections-Legitimate and Heroic

May 8, 2014
more

Senator Cardin's floor statement on deteriorating situation in Ukraine

May 2, 2014
more

Senator Cardin's floor statement on Ukraine

March 27, 2014
more

Rep. Smith's support of the Ukraine Support Act

March 27, 2014
more

Senate floor statement on Ukraine

March 7, 2014
more

Ukraine

February 28, 2014
more

Statement on H. Res. 447

February 11, 2014
more

Supporting the Democratic Aspirations of the People of Ukraine

February 3, 2014
more

Human Rights in Hungary

December 16, 2013
more

The 80th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Famine

November 19, 2013
more

75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

November 12, 2013
more

Remembering Nicolae Gheorghe

September 11, 2013
more

Political Imprisonment in Ukraine

April 9, 2013
more

Hungary

July 13, 2012
more

International Human Rights Day

December 9, 2011
more

Commemoration of the Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising

September 9, 2011
more

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

August 2, 2011
more

Click here for more Statements

A Century of Denial: the Armenian Genocide and the Ongoing Quest for Justice

April 23, 2015
Rayburn 2175
more

Northern Ireland: Stormont, Collusion, and the Finucane Inquiry

March 18, 2015
2175 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Serbia’s Leadership of the OSCE

February 25, 2015
2200 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Combating Corruption in the OSCE Region: The Link between Security and Good Governance

November 19, 2014
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 203/202
more

Ukraine’s Pivotal Parliamentary Poll

November 14, 2014
Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 608
more

Anti-Semitism, Racism and Discrimination in the OSCE Region

July 22, 2014
SD-562 Dirksen Senate Office Building
more

Political Pluralism in the OSCE Mediterranean Partners?

July 16, 2014
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 203/202
more

The Security, Economic and Human Rights Dimensions of US-Azerbaijan Relations

June 11, 2014
Russell Senate Office Building, Room 432
more

Georgia 2008, Ukraine 2014: Is Moldova Next?

May 6, 2014
Capitol Visitor Center, Room 268
more

Ukraine: Confronting Internal Challenges and External

April 9, 2014
Room 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building
more

The Dog Barks, But the Caravan Moves on: Highs and Lows in U.S.-Russia Relations

March 27, 2014
Room 2103 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Developments in the Western Balkans and Policy Responses

March 5, 2014
Room 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building
more

Switzerland’s Leadership of the OSCE

February 25, 2014
Room 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building
more

Disappeared in Turkmenistan’s Prisons: Are They Still Alive?

February 20, 2014
Room 122 Cannon House Office Building
more

Resolving Crises in East Asia through a New System of Collective Security: the Helsinki Process as a Model

December 11, 2013
SD-106
more

Europeans of African Descent 'Black Europeans': Race, Rights, and Politics

November 19, 2013
SDG-50
more

OSCE Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking: Outlook and Opportunities

September 17, 2013
SD-106 Dirksen Senate Office Building
more

Fleeing to Live: Syrian Refugees in the OSCE Region

June 13, 2013
562 Dirksen Senate Office Building
more

Ukraine’s Leadership of the OSCE

May 8, 2013
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 562
more

Democracy in Albania: the Pace of Progress

May 6, 2013
Capitol Visitors' Center, Senate Room 210-212
more

The Trajectory of Democracy – Why Hungary Matters

March 19, 2013
Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 210
more

The State-Sanctioned Marginalization of Christians in Western Europe

December 10, 2012
Room B318 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Assessing Ukraine’s Parliamentary Elections

November 20, 2012
Room B-318 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Online Safety Under Repressive Regimes: What is the Responsibility of Technology Companies?

October 19, 2012
2203 Rayburn
more

Listening to Victims of Child Sex Trafficking

October 4, 2012
2255 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Georgia’s Parliamentary Election: How Free and Fair Has the Campaign Been, and How Should the U.S. Government Respond?

September 20, 2012
2255 Rayburn House Office Building
more

“Escalating Violence Against Coptic Women and Girls: Will the New Egypt Be More Dangerous Than the Old?”

July 18, 2012
210 Cannon H.O.B
more

Justice in the International Extradition System, The Case of George Wright and Beyond

July 11, 2012
2203 Rayburn HOB
more

Ukraine’s Upcoming Elections: A Pivotal Moment

May 17, 2012
1310 Longworth
more

Political Prisoners in Central Asia

May 15, 2012
Rayburn 2203
more

Prerequisites for Progress in Northern Ireland

March 21, 2012
Rm. 2247 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Healing the Wounds of Conflict and Disaster: Clarifying the Fate of Missing Persons in the OSCE Area

February 28, 2012
Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Dispatches from Moscow: Luke Harding’s chilling tale of KGB harassment

February 22, 2012
210 Cannon House Office Building
more

The Escalation of Violence against Roma in Europe

February 15, 2012
B-328 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Irish Chairmanship of the OSCE

February 8, 2012
B-318 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Conflicts in the Caucasus: Prospects for Resolution

December 7, 2011
B-318 Rayburn
more

Combating Anti-Semitism in the OSCE Region: Taking Stock of the Situation Today

December 2, 2011
2172 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Belarus: The Ongoing Crackdown and Forces for Change

November 15, 2011
210 Cannon House Office Building
more

From Arab Spring to Coptic Winter: Sectarian Violence and the Struggle for Democratic Transition in Egypt

November 15, 2011
210 Cannon House Office Building
more

Elections and Political Transition in Tunisia

October 13, 2011
B-318 Rayburn House Office Building
more

Mongolia Moves Toward Europe

October 12, 2011
210 Cannon House Office Building
more

Russia’s Upcoming Elections and the Struggle for Public and Competitive Politics

September 22, 2011
210 Cannon House Office Building
more

Click here for more Hearings

Featured

 











   
 

Recent Press Releases

December 2014

November 2014

February 2014

January 2014

October 2013

May 2013

April 2013

November 2012

Click here for the previous year's Press Releases


In The News

« » Jul 2014
S M T W T F S
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2

Click a date to update list
Label for Featured Photo
Featured Photo
Representative Chris Smith, Senator Roger Wicker, and Senator Ben Cardin participate in an OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Annual Session press conference in Baku, Azerbaijan. (June 2014)