INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GENOCIDE SCHOLARS
October 5, 2007
The Honorable Tom Lantos, Chairman
The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member
House Foreign Affairs Committee
US House of Representatives
Dear Chairman Lantos and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen:
We write to you as the leading international organization of scholars who study genocide. We strongly urge you to pass H. Res. 106.
In passing this resolution the US Congress would not be adjudicating history but instead would be affirming the truth about a genocide that has been overwhelmingly established by decades of documentation and scholarship.
Truth of the Scholarly Record
It is disingenuous of the government of Turkey to use the red herring of a “historians’ commission,” half of whose members would be appointed by the Turkish government, to “study” the facts of what occurred in 1915. As we have made clear in our Open Letters to Prime Minister Erdogan (6/13/05 and 6/12/06), the historical record on the Armenian Genocide is unambiguous. It is proven by foreign office records of the United States, France, Great Britain, Russia, and perhaps most importantly, of Turkey’s World War I allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, as well as by the records of the Ottoman Courts-Martial of 1918-1920, and by decades of scholarship. A “commission of historians” would only serve the interests of Turkish genocide deniers.
The abundance of scholarly evidence led to the unanimous resolution of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Turkish massacres of over one million Armenians from 1915 to 1918 was a crime of genocide.
America’s Own Record
The Joint Congressional Resolution recognizing and commemorating the Armenian Genocide will honor America’s extraordinary Foreign Service Officers (among them Leslie A. Davis, Jesse B. Jackson, and Oscar Heizer) who often risked their lives rescuing Armenian citizens in 1915. They and others left behind some forty thousand pages of reports, now in the National Archives, that document that what happened to the Armenian people was government-planned, systematic extermination—what Raphael Lemkin (the man who coined the word genocide) used in creating the definition.
By passing this resolution, the U.S. Congress would also pay tribute to America’s first international human rights movement. The Foreign Service Officers and prominent individuals such as Theodore Roosevelt, Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, and Cleveland Dodge, who did so much to help the Armenians, exemplify America’s legacy of moral leadership.
The parliaments of many countries have affirmed the fact of the Armenian Genocide in unequivocal terms, yet H. Res. 106, a commemorative, non-binding resolution, has faced opposition from those who fear it would undermine US relations with Turkey. It is worth noting that, notwithstanding France’s Armenian Genocide legislation, France and Turkey are engaged in more bilateral trade than ever before. We would not expect the US government to be intimidated by an unreliable ally with a deeply disturbing human rights record, graphically documented in the State Department’s 2007 International Religious Freedom Report on Turkey. We would expect the United States to express its moral and intellectual views, not to compromise its own principles.
The Armenian Genocide is not a controversial issue outside of Turkey. Just as it would be unethical for Germany to interfere with the historical memory of the Holocaust, we feel it is equally unethical for Turkey to interfere with the memory of the Armenian Genocide. Elie Wiesel has repeatedly called Turkey’s denial a double killing, as it strives to kill the memory of the event. We believe the US government should not be party to efforts to kill the memory of a historical fact as profound and important as the genocide of the Armenians, which Hitler used as an example in his plan to exterminate the Jews.
We also believe that security and historical truth are not in conflict, and it is in the interest of the United States to support the principles of human rights that are at the core of American democracy.
Dr. Gregory H. Stanton
International Association of Genocide Scholars
Immediate Past President:
Israel W. Charny
Institute on Holocaust & Genocide, Jerusalem, Israel