Each year, on April 24, Armenian Americans flood the streets of Los Angeles to commemorate Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, a holiday that commemorates the period between 1915 and 1923 when the Ottoman Empire systematically killed 1.5 million Armenians. Forty-nine states—including California—recognize the event as a genocide, but the United States had long failed to officially do so. Until today.
A legally non-binding resolution affirming that the U.S. should recognize the genocide was overwhelmingly approved in the House today, where the measure was shepherded by L.A. congressman Adam Schiff, who said in a tweet, “We will not be party to genocide denial. We will not be silent. We will never forget.”
Los Angeles County is home to approximately 200,000 Armenians, the largest population outside of Armenia; a large share live in Schiff’s district.
The House just voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide – a vote I fought for 19 years to make possible, that tens of thousands of my Armenian American constituents have waited decades to see.
We will not be party to genocide denial. We will not be silent. We will never forget. pic.twitter.com/R8Ex2lqYEb
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 29, 2019
House members approved the measure shortly after they approved a sweeping Turkey sanctions bill, which Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called a legislative double whammy. Turkey’s recent incursion along the the Syrian border reportedly killed 200 Kurds and displaced 200,000 more.
Current events served as an argument to approve a measure that focuses on atrocities committed a century ago. “It is critical that we counteract Turkey’s genocide denial because genocide denial is the last act of a genocide,” California congressman Brad Sherman said. “First, you obliterate a people, then you seek to obliterate their memory, and finally you seek to obliterate the memory of the obliteration.”
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.