Legislating Allegation of Genocide

As a member of the Pax Turcica Institute, I share the pain of innocent Armenians who perished during World War I. But I am disappointed that the Assembly Joint Resolution 2 (AJR2), recently amended in the Rules Committee, seeks to legislate an allegation of crime against humanity which has never been tried in any court.

All recognized genocides, such as the Holocaust, Srebrenica, and Rwanda, have been determined by a tribunal in accordance with the 1948 United Nations Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. But the atrocities in the Ottoman Empire were never assessed by a competent court and the intent to exterminate Armenians was never established. Bernard Lewis, a renowned Princeton scholar of Ottoman history, described the genocide claim as “the Armenian version of history.” In 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the Turkish-Armenian issue is a matter of historical debate by scholars.

Neither the federal government nor Congress recognizes the alleged Armenian genocide. In December 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the California court decision in the Movsesian vs. Victoria Versicherung AG case of controversial insurance claims based on California’s recognition of genocide. The Ninth Circuit argued that a state law which conflicts with a federal statute or executive branch policy is “unconstitutional under the foreign affairs doctrine”.

Finally, between 1914 and 1922, an estimated 523,955 Turks, Kurds, Azeris, and other Muslims were mass murdered by the Armenian nationalist groups that sought to create a state in Anatolia and the Caucasus. The figure does not include those missing or buried in mass graves. AJR 2 is insensitive of this suffering, instead illicitly accusing Turkey of a grave crime. As such, I find AJR 2 to be unethical, ethnocentric, and contrary to Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.

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