“Our work is not finished–there is much more to be done,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “It is long past time for the President and the Congress to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
These remarks reaffirming Mrs. Pelosi’s commitment to passing the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106) were given on April 23, during the 2008 Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide Observance, organized by the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.
Speaker Pelosi highlighted the importance of having the US House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) pass H.Res.106 in October but made it clear that more needed to be done to adequately put the US on record as recognizing the facts of the Armenian Genocide.
She also revealed that she carries around the front page of the October 11, 2007 New York Times in her brief case. The page features a picture of Armenian Genocide survivors who were present during the HFAC’s consideration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.
Since 2005, Ragip Zarakolu has been facing an unending string of trials under the notorious Article 301 of Turkey’s penal code.
His most recent indictment is for publishing George Jerjian’s The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks Reconciled, a book that recounts the story of the author’s grandmother during the Armenian Genocide. He faces a three-year jail sentence for this offense.
On April 9, a criminal court in Istanbul prologned Mr. Zarakolu’s persecution once agian by postponing his hearing until June 17, by which time Turkey is expected to apply some cosmetic reforms to Article 301.
Nevertheless, Zarakolu feels he will likely end up in jail despite the supposed reforms. Cengiz Aktar, an EU expert at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, shares this view, pointing out that there are at least 20 other articles in Turkey’s penal code which have ”the same mentality of killing freedom of speech.”
And it is exactly this killing of free speech that has many European officials protesting against Turkey’s practices and blocking their accession into the EU. It is also this killing of freedom of speech that led to the death of Hrant Dink, the exile of Orhan Pamuk, and the trial of over 1,700 people under Article 301.
We see that this government that claims it has nothing to hide and calls for a historical commission with Armenia is the same government spending night and day lobybing officials abroad, jailing writers at home, and preventing the publishing of books.
Ninety-three years after 1915, Turkey is more adamant than ever in its outrageous effort to bury the truth alongside the 1.5 million bodies it is responsible for exterminating. Ankara is obviously afraid of this truth and cannot dare to face its past.
Yet, despite being dragged to court and even having his publishing house firebombed, a lonely few like Zarakolu continue to call internally for Turkey to change its ways. “We try to force our society to face its history,” says Zarakolu. “Without this hardship we can’t change society. Somebody must pay the bill.”
The least we can do is stand up for the truth ourselves and demand a rightful acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.
The longstanding service of former Congressman Bob Livingston and his Livingston Group lobbying firm to the Republic of Turkey has finally come to an end.
Livingston, who served in Congress from 1977-1999 before resigning amid an extramarital affair scandal, has been one of Turkey’s most well-payed and loyal agents in the United States. Over the years he has received millions of dollars from the Turkish government in return for his work to deny the Armenian Genocide in the halls of Congress.
“We have enjoyed a wonderful relationship for eight years, we’ve had a lot of legislative victories together, and we wish the Turkish people lots of continued success and happiness in the future,” Livingston said in a statement to The Hill.
It seems that Turkey’s “Super Lobbyist” simply no longer met the mark for Ankara’s expectations when it comes to preventing American officials from recognizing a clear historical fact. Instead, Turkey is now enlisting the services of former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and former Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), both of whom are lobbyists for Turkey with DLA Piper.
Although anti-genocide activists surely welcome Livingston’s departure from the Turkish payroll, the problem of former public officials selling themselves to the highest bidder continues to hamper American democracy. In this sense, the struggle to recognize the Armenian Genocide is part and parcel of the effort to loosen the grip of K Street lobbyists over our political process.