The Fresno Bee, Fresno, California, Sunday, January 4, 2004
The Armenian National Committee is leading a postcard-writing effort to
pressure congressional leaders into allowing a vote on a resolution
commemorating the 15th anniversary of the approval of the United Nations
Convention on Genocide.
The resolution on the anniversary -- officially known as the Genocide
Convention Implementation Act of 1987 -- has 110 co-sponsors and was
approved by the House Judiciary Committee more than six months ago, but
it has not been brought to the House floor for a vote.
Maybe, the Armenian National Committee said, postcards piling up in the
mailrooms of House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader
Bill Frist can help move it along.
"It's something tangible in this age of electronics," said Ardashes
Kassakhian, executive director of the western region of the Armenian
National Committee. He likened the impact to the scene in the film "Miracle
on 34th Street," when bags of mail are poured on a judge's bench in an
effort to prove Santa Claus is real.
The postcards, like the stalled resolution, highlight several 20th-century
genocides, not just the Armenian genocide.
They feature photos of Armenians being hanged, piles of Ukrainian bodies and
Jews being marched off by German soldiers. Also pictured are Cambodians,
Kurds and Rwandans. Across the bottom, it reads: "Help end the cycle of
Armenian supporters say it is the Turkish lobby that stands alone against
approving the resolution and is exerting influence on Congress not to pass
Among local legislators, the resolution has unanimous support. Rep. George
Radanovich, R-Mariposa, is listed as the lead sponsor, with fellow Reps.
Devin Nunes, R-Visalia; Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced; and Cal Dooley, D-Fresno,
signing on as co-sponsors.
"I am fully supportive of the recognition of human genocide," Nunes said.
"It is one reason I voted to send troops to Iraq, because of all the Kurds
Saddam Hussein killed. I am a strong supporter that the Armenian genocide
should be recognized."
In a statement announcing the effort, Radanovich said: "I applaud this
effort to pressure Congress to reaffirm their support of the Genocide
Convention and to appropriately recognize the Armenian genocide."
Locally, ANC member Paul Jamushian said Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic
Church alone has sent 600 postcards. Members are working on getting other
central San Joaquin Valley Armenian churches involved.
To date, Kassakhian said, of the 50,000 postcards ordered through his ANC
office, only a few thousand remain, and the ANC's Web site has had hundreds
of hits with people downloading a copy of the postcard to send.
In the Armenian genocide, 1.5 million Armenians died between 1915 and 1923
at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. The modern Turkish republic, born out of
the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, disputes that a genocide occurred.
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