H.R. 296 Officially Recognizes Armenian Genocide
11/05/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – The beginning of the twentieth century witnessed several world-changing events that shaped the world to what it is today. Most are still studied, and many are continue to be debated at different strata of society. Recently, one such event received recognition from the United States Congress.
House Resolution 296 stands as formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide during which 1.5 million Armenians died at the hands of Ottoman-Turks between 1915 and 1923. Mass killing was not the only crime committed against the Armenian people—deportations and forced conversions to Islam played a major role as well. This monumental resolution not only officially recognizes that the event took place, but also legitimatizes the use of the word “genocide” as an official description of the event.
H.R. 296 is important for several reasons, one of the most important being the need for the United States to lead on such issues and to condemn the rewriting of history in terms more favorable to those in power. The decisions leading to 1.5 million people being killed in the name of ethnic cleansing are heinous and must be condemned and remembered. The Armenian people have fought for almost a century to receive public recognition for the crime committed against their people.
While Turkish officials continue to cast the deaths as legitimate wartime casualties, the reality is quite different. In fact, the genocide was premeditated and consisted of the systematic killing of noncombatants and innocent civilians—men, women and children.
The resolution sends a clear message to the Turkish government, which has already condemned the resolution as a merely political response to Turkey’s recent military operation in Syria.
H.R. 296 is the first official recognition of the Armenian genocide ever issued by the United States Congress. The resolution has existed for at least 19 years but was never brought up for a vote.
While motivations for supporting the resolution may be varied, the fact that Congress has finally decided to recognize the atrocities suffered by Turkey’s Armenian population is a significant step forward. This resolution also serves as key marker in human rights and in genocide prevention going forward. The United States should always strive to stand alongside the oppressed. While many members did not vote for the resolution, it is encouraging to see the bipartisan support that the resolution received. H.R. 296 is a win for human rights and for religious freedom around the world.
Matias Perttula currently serves as the Advocacy Director for International Christian Concern where he leads the government relations efforts to mobilize the US government to address issues of persecution in countries where religious minorities are oppressed and the freedom of religion is in decline.