WASHINGTON—On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), for an entire hour on the House Floor, read the names of a small fraction of the 1.5 million people killed during the Armenian Genocide after business concluded in the House for the day. During the hour, Schiff read 1,000 names of constituents’ relatives and those of the Armenian-American community that were submitted over the past two weeks to the office through social media and email. Schiff’s reading of the names comes the day after the White House confirmed to Armenian-American community leaders that the President would not use the word genocide when he issues a statement Friday on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
The full hour-long video can be seen here, and Rep. Adam Schiff also tweeted each name, as it was read.
“In a single hour, I was only able to read the names of a mere fraction of those who were killed in the Armenian Genocide,” said Schiff. “To read all of the names of the more than 1.5 million people murdered at the time, would take many weeks, and I hope that the recitation of the victims will help call attention to the magnitude of the crime. A name, unlike a number, is no abstraction – each was a son or daughter, a mother or father, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle; each was a precious life.”
In past years, Schiff has taken to the House floor in April to recognize the Genocide. Two years ago, he spoke on the House Floor in Armenian to recognize and pay tribute to those lost – the first time that language had been spoken in the well of Congress. And last year, he delivered an open letter to the Turkish people urging them to examine their ancestor’s role in the first genocide of the 20th century.
This past month, Schiff joined over 40 congressional colleagues to introduce the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution. This bipartisan resolution calls upon the President to work toward equitable, constructive, and durable Armenian-Turkish relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s full acknowledgement of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide. The resolution will also establish a fair, just, and comprehensive international record of this crime against humanity.
This year, 2015, marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide – a systematic and deliberate annihilation campaign launched by the government of the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian population which left 1.5 million Armenians dead and millions more displaced. While the Armenian Genocide has been recognized by more than twenty nations including Canada, Italy, Sweden, France, Argentina and Russia, as well as the European Parliament, it has not been formally recognized by the U.S. Congress in decades and has not been recognized by President Barack Obama.