Public officials in Glendale are praising a vote by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday that passed a resolution to observe and commemorate the Armenian Genocide.
Authored by committee chair Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Resolution 410 was approved by a 12-5 vote and will now head to the full Senate.
“This resolution reaffirms in the strongest terms that we will always remember this tragedy and honor the memory of innocent Armenian men, women and children who were killed and expelled from their homeland,” Menendez said in a statement. “The Armenian Genocide must be taught, recognized and commemorated to prevent the reoccurrence of similar atrocities from ever happening again.”
April 24 will mark the 99th anniversary of the genocide under the Ottoman Empire, now modern-day Turkey, that claimed the lives of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1918.
Turkey has since denied that a genocide occurred and that those people were all casualties of World War I and its aftermath.
The resolution also states the president should work on developing an equitable and stable relationship with Turkey, but recognition of the genocide by the Turkish government would have to be a prerequisite.
A previous genocide-recognition effort in the U.S. House of Representatives came up last year when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) introduced Resolution 227, which awaits approval by the House Foreign Relations Committee.
Schiff said he hopes the senate committee’s vote will help jump-start his legislation.
“It does put pressure on the House when the Senate acts … only time will tell,” he said. “We’ve gotten more traction in the House, so it’s wonderful that the Senate is taking the initiative to move their own resolution.”
Newly sworn-in Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan said he viewed Thursday’s vote as the prevailing of justice, even if it’s only within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“I’m far from having the illusion that this solution will be resolved overnight, in terms of our country to be able to tell what has been perceived as a U.S. ally, Turkey, to do the right thing,” he said.
Berdj Karapetian, chairman of the Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America, said while it is important to eventually to have a U.S. president sign off on a genocide resolution, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of Thursday’s vote and more politicians coming forward in support.
“It’s a significant vote, 12-5,” he said, adding that it says to the Turkish government that it should take responsibility for the genocide.
“That is already an important message,” Karapetian said.
Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.