The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

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CALIFORNIA POLITICIANS GET BEHIND EFFORT TO GET U.S. CONGRESS TO APPROVE RESOLUTION COMMEMORATING 15TH ANNIVERSARY OF UN CONVENTION ON GENOCIDE
Highlight Several 20th Century Genocides Including Ukraine
  

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 genocide."

Armenian supporters say it is the Turkish lobby that stands alone against approving the resolution and is exerting influence on Congress not to pass it.

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.


The reporter can be reached at  jellis@fresnobee.com  or 441-6320.
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