[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 151 (2005), Part 9]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages 12771-12772]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]



                        HON. FRANK PALLONE, JR.

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, June 15, 2005

  Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to express my 
disappointment with the American Foreign Service Association, and its 
decision to withdraw awarding a ``Constructive Dissent'' award to U.S. 
Armenian Ambasador John Evans.
  Ambassador Evans was due to receive the Christian A. Heter Award for 
intellectual courage, initiative, and integrity later this week. The 
award was a result of courageous statements he made regarding the 
recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
  In a series of public statements, Ambassador Evans, who has studied 
Russian history at Yale and Columbia and Ottoman history at the Kennan 
Institute, stated, ``I will today call it the Armenian Genocide.'' Mr. 
Speaker, Ambassador Evans has studied the history of Armenia, and based 
on his substantial studies of the issue, he was willing to go on the 
record and define the actions taken against Armenians as genocide.
  The Armenian Genocide was the systematic extermination--the murder--
of one-and-one-half million Armenian men, women and children.
  To this day, the Repulic of Turkey refuses to acknowledge the fact 
that this massive crime against humanity took place on soil under its 
control, and in the name of Turkish nationalism.
  Unfortunately, some 90 years later, the U.S. State Department 
continues to support Turkey's denials despite all evdence to the 
contrary. It's not likely that the State Department was happy with 
their Ambassador to Armenia acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. 
Therefore, Evans retracted his remarks after receiving substantial 
pressure from the State Department.
  Well, now the selectton committee at the American Foreign Service 
Association has decided to withdraw the award with no reason for its 
actions. I find the timing of the decision peculiar. The sharp 
turnaround came right before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip 
Erdogan arrived in Washington for a meeting with President Bush. Based 
on past history, it's clear that the State Department, the Bush 
Administration, and the powerful pro-Turkish lobby pressured A-F-S-A to 
withdraw Ambassador Evans' Award.
  It is simply unacceptable for this administration to continue to 
penalize the ambassador for his comments. Ambassador Evans did a 
courageous thing; his statements did not contradict U.S. policy, but 
rather articulated the same message that this Administration has sent 
to the public. The only difference in this case is that Ambassador 
Evans assigned a word to define the actions taken against the 
  This was a refreshing break from a pattern on the part of the State 
Department of using evasive and euphemistic terminology to obscure the 
full reality of the Armenian Genocide, Ambassador Evans pointed out 
that, ``No American official has ever denied it,'' and went on to say 
that, ``I think we, the U.S. government, owe you, our fellow citizens a 
more frank and honest way of discussing this problem.''
  Ambassador Evans was merely recounting the historical record, which 
has been attested to by over 120 Holocaust and genocide scholars from 
around the world. By doing this, he earned a prestigious award that was 
taken from him because of politics and denial.
  I want to add my voice to all those who, in Ambassador Evans' own 
words, (and I'm quoting) ``think it is unbecoming of us as Americans to 
play word games here. I believe in calling things by their name.'' 
Evans was right, and the American Foreign Services Association was 
correct in awarding him the Christian A. Heter Award. We should 
encourage our Ambassadors to speak the truth, and, more boadly, end, 
once and for all, our complicity in Turkey's campaign of genocide 
  Mr. Speaker, Ambassador Evans has been penalized for telling the 
truth. The American Foreign Service Association has set a terrible 
example by retracting Ambassador Evans' award. I guess even in America 
the Turkish Government is able to stifle debate.

                     [From the California Courier]

     Rescinding of ``Dissent'' Award Triggers International Uproar

                         (By Harut Sassounian)

       Last week, in this column, I disclosed the news that the 
     American Foreign Service Association had just reversed 
     itself, taking the unprecedented step of withdrawing the 
     ``Constructive Dissent'' award from John Evans, the U.S. 
     Ambassador to Armenia.
       This was a shocking development, as this award is given to 
     high-ranking diplomats for their ``intellectual courage, 
     initiative and integrity in the context of constructive 
     dissent [and] for demonstrating the courage to speak out and 
     challenge the system on a subject related to their work.''
       Last February, Ambassador Evans had forthrightly and 
     appropriately referred to the Armenian Genocide, as a 
     genocide, to the chagrin of the Turkish government and its 
     supporters in the Bush administration. It was highly ironic 
     that the U.S. Ambassador would lose this award for the very 
     reason that it was given to him in the first place--
     ``dissent.'' So much for encouraging honesty and integrity at 
     the State Department.
       I posted my last week's column on the groong web site in 
     the evening of June 6, a couple of hours after being informed 
     by AFSA that it had just decided to rescind the award. Little 
     did I know then that within a couple of days, my column would 
     trigger a national and international uproar and would be 
     picked up by scores of newspapers and wire services from 
     around the world, such as the Washington Post, the Associated 
     Press, the UPI, Hurriyet, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 
     Turkish Daily News, AzerTag (Azerbaijan), Webindia123 
     (India), and Armenian newspapers in several countries. Even 
     the spokesman for the State Dept., Sean McCormack, was asked 
     about this controversial

[[Page 12772]]

     issue during his daily press briefing on June 9.
       Despite attempts AFSA and State Dept. officials to cover up 
     the real reasons for the withdrawal of the award, it has 
     become clear that the award was rescinded after direct 
     pressure was brought to bear on AFSA from the State Dept. 
     When John Limbert, the president of AFSA, was asked by the 
     Washington Post to explain the reason for his group's action, 
     he replied: ``State Department officials would have to 
     explain their concerns.'' The Award Committee is composed of 
     current and former State Department officials. L. Bruce 
     Laingen, who chaired the selection committee, was more 
       He told the Post that ``very serious people from the State 
     Department in particular'' expressed concerns about this 
     award being given to Amb. Evans. Laingen said that the award 
     committee had not focused on the criterion that dissent had 
     to be expressed within the system, until it was reminded of 
     that by the State Department!
       Once again, as a result of the over-reaction of Turkish 
     officials and their Washington cronies, the issue of the 
     Armenian Genocide was publicized worldwide. All of the above 
     newspapers and wire services, even the Turkish and Azeri 
     ones, reported that the award had been withdrawn from Amb. 
     Evans because of his comments on the Armenian Genocide. The 
     Washington Post wrote that Amb. Evans had characterized ``as 
     genocide the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in the waning 
     days of the Ottoman Empire in 1915.'' It included in its 
     article lengthy quotations from the statements Amb. Evans had 
     made last February on the Armenian Genocide--the same 
     quotations that I had cited in my last week's column.
       The Washington Post also wrote: ``the timing of the 
     association's decision appeared curious, given it came just 
     before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in 
     Washington for a meeting with President Bush to bolster 
     strained U.S.-Turkish relations. John W. Limbert, president 
     of the association, said that no one at the organization can 
     remember an award being withdrawn after it had been 
     announced. `It is not something we do easily,' he said.''
       Ironically, if the State Department thought that by 
     withdrawing this award it would avoid the awkward situation 
     of honoring the U.S. ambassador to Armenia for acknowledging 
     the Armenian Genocide, at a time when the Turkish Prime 
     Minister was meeting with Pres. Bush, it actually ended up 
     creating a bigger embarrassment, as the national and 
     international media reported AFSA's controversial decision, 
     while the Turkish leader was still in Washington.
       By withdrawing the ``Dissent'' award, AFSA and the State 
     Department made fools of themselves in front of the whole 
     world. Their unwarranted action not only undermined the 
     credibility of the award, but also the reputations of both 
     AFSA and the U.S. government which acted in this case with 
     intolerance more typical of oppressive third world regimes.

                     [From the California Courier]

     Foreign Service Agency Wrongly Withdraws Award From Amb. Evans

                         (By Harut Sassounian)

       The American Foreign Service Association took the very 
     unusual step this week of rescinding the prestigious 
     ``Constructive Dissent'' award that it had decided to bestow 
     upon U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, during a special 
     ceremony that was to be held at the Benjamin Franklin 
     Diplomatic Reception Room of the State Department on June 17.
       The AFSA is the professional association of the United 
     States Foreign Service. It represents 26,000 active and 
     retired Foreign Service employees of the Department of State 
     and Agency for International Development. The Secretary of 
     State usually attends the group's annual award ceremony.
       Last February, during his tour of various Armenian 
     communities in the United States, Amb. Evans publicly 
     referred to the extermination of the Armenians in Ottoman 
     Turkey as genocide. ``I will today call it the Armenian 
     Genocide,'' the U.S. Ambassador said. ``I informed myself in 
     depth about it. I think we, the U.S. government, owe you, our 
     fellow citizens, a more frank and honest way of discussing 
     this problem. Today, as someone who has studied it, . . . 
     there is no doubt in my mind what happened. . . . I think it 
     is unbecoming of us, as Americans, to play word games here. I 
     believe in calling things by their name.'' Referring to ``the 
     first Genocide of the 20th century,'' Amb. Evans said, ``I 
     pledge to you, we are going to do a better job at addressing 
     this issue.''
       Amb. Evans knew that his frank comments ran counter to the 
     official line of recent U.S. administrations that have 
     avoided using the term genocide to characterize the mass 
     killings of Armenians. After complaints from Turkish 
     officials to the U.S. government, Amb. Evans was forced by 
     his superiors to issue ``a clarification,'' stating that he 
     used the term ``genocide'' in his personal capacity--and he 
     now found that to be ``inappropriate.'' To make matters 
     worse, Amb. Evans was then forced to correct his 
     clarification,'' replacing the word ``genocide'' with 
     ``Armenian tragedy.''
       Since Amb. Evans had dared to challenge the position of his 
     own superiors, he was nominated for the AFSA's coveted 
     ``Constructive Dissent'' award. The AFSA's web site explains 
     that this award ``publicly recognizes individuals who have 
     demonstrated the intellectual courage to challenge the system 
     from within, to question the status quo and take a stand, no 
     matter the sensitivity of the issue or the consequences of 
     their actions.'' The AFSA states: ``The purpose of the 
     Dissent Awards is to encourage Foreign Service career 
     employees to speak out frankly and honestly.'' It also states 
     that the Constructive Dissent Awards ``offer an opportunity 
     to publicly recognize and honor the courageous and thoughtful 
     actions of our colleagues, over and above their 
       Last week, Haygagan Jamanag, a newspaper published in 
     Yerevan, reported that Amb. Evans was the winner of this 
     year's ``Constructive Dissent'' award. Since the name of the 
     honoree was not yet officially announced, I contacted the 
     AFSA in Washington, D.C., and was told that Amb. Evans was 
     indeed the winner of this prestigious award. I was also told 
     that he was selected because of his stand on the Armenian 
       As this column was about to go to print, I received an 
     unexpected call from an AFSA official in Washington, 
     informing me that the Award Committee had just met and 
     decided to reverse itself and ``withdraw the award'' from 
     Amb. Evans. When I asked why, the answer was ``no comment.''
       We can safely speculate that the same cast of characters at 
     the upper echelons of the Bush Administration, who had 
     earlier forced Amb. Evans to withdraw his remarks on the 
     Armenian Genocide, had now succeeded in forcing the AFSA to 
     rescind this award.
       Incredibly, what they were taking away from Amb. Evans was 
     not just any award. It was an award for dissenting from the 
     Bush administration's immoral position on the Armenian 
     Genocide. It was an award for simply telling the truth Amb. 
     Evans was basically repeating what President. Ronald Reagan 
     had said back in 1981 in his Presidential Proclamation, 
     acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. It would seem that Bush 
     administration officials are not afraid to go after an 
     Ambassador, but they would not dare to take on President. 
     Reagan who committed the same sin of telling the truth!
       It is a telling sign of decadent times that an individual 
     has to be given an award for having ``the courage'' to tell 
     the truth--and worse yet, have that award unfairly taken away 
     from him.
       All those who side with truth and justice, should complain 
     to the AFSA ([email protected]) for its withdrawal of Amb. 
     Evans' award and ask that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice 
     (http://contact-us.state.gov) have it reinstated promptly.