[Congressional Record Volume 144, Number 148 (Friday, October 16, 1998)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2215-E2216]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           ARMENIAN GENOCIDE


                       HON. GEORGE P. RADANOVICH

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                        Friday, October 16, 1998

  Mr. RADANOVICH. Mr. Speaker, on May 15, 1996, this testimony on the 
Armenian Genocide was submitted to the House Committee on International 
Relations by Levon Marashlian, Professor of History at Glendale 
Community College, California:

       Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for this 
     opportunity to speak before you on an issue which is 
     intimately tied to American History and directly related to 
     the welfare of Turkey and to the success of the United States 
     policy in a region of the world which is critically important 
     economically and strategically.
       In 1919, a political body called The National Congress of 
     Turkey confirmed the overwhelming American evidence that the 
     Armenians of the Ottoman Empire were victims of a mass 
     destruction during World War I. The National Congress of 
     Turkey declared that the ``guilt'' of the Turkish officials 
     who ``conceived and deliberately carried out this infernal 
     policy of extermination and robbery is patent,'' those 
     officials ``rank among the greatest criminals of humanity.''
       The official Turkish gazette Takvimi Vekayi published the 
     verdict of the post-war Ottoman trials of those officials. 
     The Turkish court ruled that the intention of the Ottoman 
     leaders was :``the organization and execution'' of the 
     ``crime of massacre.''
       German Ambassador Johann Bernstorff, whose country was 
     allied with Turkey, wrote about ``Armenia where the Turks 
     have been systematically trying to exterminate the Christian 
     population.'' Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word genocide in 
     1944, specifically cited the ``genocide of the Armenians.''
       Those who today deny the Armenian Genocide are resorting to 
     academically unsound revisionism, in order to prevent the 
     moral act of remembering this crime against humanity. In the 
     process, the deniers are doing a disservice to the majority 
     of today's Turkish people. By keeping the wounds open with 
     their stonewalling tactics, by making it necessary to have 
     hearings like this, they force the Turkish people to continue 
     wearing like an albatross the negative image earned by a 
     circle of officials who ruled eight decades ago.
       A consideration of House Con. Res. 47, which remembers 
     ``the genocide perpetrated by the governments of the Ottoman 
     Empire from 1915 to 1923,'' would provide a good opportunity 
     to draw a distinction between the guilty and the innocent 
     Turks, to remember also the Turks of decency who opposed 
     their government's policy of inhumanity.
       At a time today when so many people in our society too 
     often shirk their individual responsibility to make personal 
     choices based on principles and values, it is a good lesson 
     for us to recall the years when American witnesses and 
     Turkish civilians made the personal choice to resist a wrong 
     and save human lives, when a few Turkish officials even chose 
     to object, even though doing so could have endangered their 
     own lives.
       One was an Ottoman Senator, Ahmed Riza. In December 1915 he 
     courageously condemned the policy to destroy and deport 
     Turkey's two million Armenian citizens and expropriate their 
     assets, which authorities were carrying out under the cover 
     of a legislative fig leaf euphemistically called the 
     Abandoned Properties Law.
       ``It is unlawful to designate'' Armenian properties as 
     abandoned, declared Senator Riza, because they did not leave 
     their properties voluntarily. They were ``forcibly'' removed 
     from their homes and exiled. ``Now the government is 
     selling'' their possessions. ``Nobody can sell my property if 
     I am unwilling to sell it. This is atrocious. Grab my arm, 
     eject me from my village, then sell my goods and properties? 
     Such a thing can never be permissible. Neither the conscience 
     of the Ottomans nor the law can allow it.''

[[Page E2216]]

       Mr. Chairman, during a debate on the Senate floor in 
     February 1990, your colleague Robert Dole championed another 
     resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide (S.J. Res. 
     212), and declared, ``it's finally time for us to do what is 
     right. Right. We pride ourselves in America'' for ``doing 
     what's right, not what's expedient.''
       In this case, doing what is right does not exact a big 
     price. The frequently heard argument that a commemorative 
     resolution will harm American-Turkish relations is not 
     credible. It ignores the fact that the relationship is much 
     more in Turkey's favor than America's. Not doing what is 
     right, on the other hand, is tantamount to rejecting 
     mountains of documents in our National Archives, testimonies 
     that refute the denial arguments generated in Ankara and, 
     most disturbingly, promoted in prestigious academic circles 
     here in America.
       This denial recently spurred over 100 prominent scholars 
     and intellectuals, including Raul Hilberg, John Updike, 
     Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, and Arthur Miller, to sign a 
     petition denouncing the ``intellectually and morally corrupt 
     . . . manipulation of American institutions'' and the 
     ``fraudulent scholarship supported by the Turkish government 
     and carried out in American Universities.''
       A typical example of the powerful evidence in the US 
     Archives is a cable to the State Department from Ambassador 
     Henry Morgenthau: ``Persecution of Armenians assuming 
     unprecedented proportions. Reports from widely scattered 
     districts indicate systematic attempts to uproot peaceful 
     Armenian populations and through arbitrary arrests'' and 
     ``terrible tortures,'' to implement ``wholesale expulsions 
     and deportations from one end of the Empire to the 
     other,'' frequently accompanied by ``rape, pillage, and 
     murder, turning into massacre . . .''
       And the persecutions continued even after World War I ended 
     in 1918. ``It was like an endless chain,'' reported Edith 
     Woods, an American nurse, in 1922. ``The children would often 
     be dead before I had taken their names. Forty to fifty of the 
     older women died each day. . . . Their mouths were masses of 
     sores, and their teeth were dropping out. And their feet, 
     those poor feet, bleeding feet. . . . Deportation is sure 
     death--and a far more horrible death than massacre. Unless 
     one sees these things it is difficult to believe that such 
     monstrous cruelty and barbarity exist in the world.''
       Ms. Woods' testimony ripped to shreds the web of denial 
     being woven by Turkish officials in the early 1920's. She 
     also exposed the new atmosphere of intensitivity at the 
     American Embassy in Instanbul which contradicted the 
     overwhelming sentiment of American public opinion and the 
     spirit of Congressional resolutions in favor of Armenians 
     that were passed during those days. This American woman made 
     the personal choice to speak up against the response at her 
     own Embassy, a policy imposed by acting ambassador Admiral 
     Mark Bristol, who, driven obsessively by commercial 
     interests, was colluding in a cover-up crafted by Turkish 
       Allen Dulles, the State Department's Near East Division 
     chief (and later CIA Director), found it hard to keep things 
     under wraps as Bristol requested. ``Confidentially the State 
     Department is in a bind,'' Dulles cautioned in April 1922.
       Our task would be simple if the reports of the atrocities 
     could be declared untrue or even exaggerated but the 
     evidence, alas, is irrefutable and the Secretary of State 
     wants to avoid giving the impression that while the United 
     States is willing to intervene actively to protect its 
     commercial interests, it is not willing to move on behalf of 
     the Christian minorities.
       And the evidence mounted. In May 1922, four American relief 
     workers, Major Forrest D. Yowell of Washington DC, Dr. Mark 
     Ward of New York, Dr. Ruth Parmalee of Boston, and Isabel 
     Harely of Rhode Island, were all expelled from their posts in 
     Turkey because they too chose to do what is right, they 
     protested the ongoing persecutions. Major Yowell said 
     Armenians in his district were ``in a state of virtual 
     slavery,'' with ``no rights in the courts.''
       Dr. Ward quoted Turkish officials. One Turk declared: ``We 
     have been too easy in the past. We shall do a thorough job 
     this time.'' another remarked: ``Why do you Americans waste 
     your time and money on these filthy Greeks and Armenians? We 
     always thought that Americans knew how to get their money's 
     worth. Any Greeks and Armenians who don't die here are sure 
     to die when we send them on to Bitlis, as we always choose 
     the worst weather in order to get rid of them quicker.''
       Not all Turks were so cruel. A British diplomat reported 
     that another American in Turkey, Herbert Gibbons, knew of 
     prominent Turks who protested the ``unparalleled 
     inhumanity:'' but they were ``beaten and sent away'' for 
     intervening. The Mayor of the Black Sea city of Trabzon had 
     no sympathy with the government's policy and did what little 
     he could. The Governor also opposed the ``massacres and 
     persecutions,'' but was powerless to stop it. His predecessor 
     tried and was removed.
       Gibbons thought the government's policy was ``a calumny 
     upon the good Turks, of whom there are many.'' Massacres 
     never broke out spontaneously, since ``Christians and Moslems 
     ordinarily get along very well.'' The massacres were ordered, 
     as part of a plan ``to make Turkey truly Turkish.''
       Yet there are ``humane and kind hearted Turks,'' Gibbons 
     stressed, and there are ``Mohammedans who fear God and who 
     are shocked by the impious horrors of the extermination 
       Revisionists today say in effect that Americans like 
     Forrest Yowell, Mark Ward, Ruth Parmalee, Isabel Harely, 
     Edith Woods, Herbert Gibbons, and Ambassador Henry Morgenthau 
     were either liars or misguided.
       Remembering the atrocities against the Armenians would show 
     respect for those Americans who spoke up, and respect as well 
     for Turks like Senator Riza who also chose to oppose the 
     injustice. A recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US 
     Congress would be a step toward helping erase this important 
     ally's image problem, which Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet 
     described in 1951 as ``this black stain on the forehead of 
     the Turkish people.''
       Encouraging Turkey to face the facts of its history would 
     help lift the cloud of controversy which haunted it for 
     decades. It would help eliminate the deep roots of Armenian-
     Turkish enmity, paving the way to normalized relations, and 
     it would give Armenia the sense of security many Armenians 
     feel is necessary if they are to respond to Russia's regional 
     policies with more independence and balance. The prospects 
     for American commerce and regional stability would be 
     strengthened by a recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
       Acknowledging the Armenian Genocide also would show that 
     Congress cannot condone the brazen contradiction of its own 
     Archives and the dangerous corruption of America's academic 
     institutions. It would send a strong signal to all deniers of 
     genocide, especially to deniers of the Holocaust. Mr. 
     Chairman, taking a stand against the denial of the Armenian 
     Genocide would be entirely consistent with the successful 
     resolution ``Deploring Holocaust Deniers'' which you so 
     wisely introduced last December, in which you too did what is 
     right, by calling denial efforts ``malicious.'' Such language 
     is applicable to the denial of the Armenian Genocide as well.
       Mr. Chairman, when weighing the merits of the arguments on 
     both sides of this issue, it would be useful to keep in mind 
     a letter sent to Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes in 
     1924 by Admiral Bristol, a man who was called ``very pro-
     Turk'' by Joseph Clark Grew, Washington's first Ambassador to 
     Ankara. Even the pro-Turk Admiral acknowledged ``the 
     cruelties practiced upon the Armenians by Turks acting under 
     official orders, and in pursuance of a deliberate official 
     policy.'' For that policy, wrote Admiral Bristol, ``there can 
     be no adequate excuse.''