Leaders of Armenia Caucus Urge President Obama to Condemn Attacks in Armenian Populated Area of Syria

Mar 28, 2014 Issues: Foreign Affairs and Defense

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Michael Grimm (NY-11), co-chairs of the Congressional Armenia Caucus, along with Representatives Adam Schiff (CA-28) and David Valadao (CA-21), co-sponsors of the Armenian Genocide resolution, sent a letter to President Barack Obama to express their serious concerns regarding reports that Islamist rebels entering from Turkey were involved in attacks this past weekend in the Latakia region of Syria, specifically the town of Kessab, a predominately Armenian populated area. During the July 1915 deportation of the Armenian population at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, 5,000 Armenians were killed in Kessab.  The members of Congress called on President Obama to resoundingly condemn these recent attacks.

“These tragic developments are accompanied by disturbing reports of Armenian homes being looted and occupied,” the lawmakers said.  “When coupled with a mass exodus of the Armenian community, these events are far too reminiscent of the early days of the Armenian Genocide, which took place nearly 100 years ago in Ottoman Turkey under the cover of World War I.” 

Congressman Pallone, founder of the Armenia Caucus, has long advocated for recognition of the Armenian genocide as a means of honoring its victims, a way to require Turkey to come to terms with its own history and to prevent a shroud of denial from covering up one of the most horrific tragedies in world history.  The lawmakers urged President Obama to take all steps necessary in order to protect the Armenian Christians living in Kessab.

Below is the full text of the letter:

 

March 28, 2014

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to express our serious concerns regarding credible reports that Islamist rebels entering from Turkey this past weekend were involved in attacks in the Latakia region of Syria, specifically the town of Kessab, which is a predominately Armenian populated area.  Such actions shock the conscious and must be resoundingly condemned.

As the Wall Street Journal reported on March 26th, “For Armenian-Syrians from the town of Kassab [sic] in Latakia, which rebels overran this weekend, the Turkish involvement reminded them of a dark chapter in their history: the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman empire in 1915.”  These tragic developments are accompanied by disturbing reports of Armenian homes being looted and occupied.  When coupled with a mass exodus of the Armenian community, these events are far too reminiscent of the early days of the Armenian Genocide, which took place nearly 100 years ago in Ottoman Turkey under the cover of World War I. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, nearly 6,000 Armenians lived in Kessab.  However, the July 1915 deportation of the Armenian population at the hands of the Ottoman Turks resulted in the loss of nearly 5,000 lives.  Now, ninety-nine years after their initial deportation, another expulsion of Armenians is a telling reminder about the dangers of genocide denial and Turkey’s failure to address its genocidal legacy.

With the Christian Armenian community being uprooted from its homeland, yet again, we strongly urge you to take all necessary measures without delay to safeguard the Christian Armenian community of Kessab.  We also believe that now is the time to redouble America’s efforts to ensure that all minority communities at risk in the Middle East are afforded greater protection. 

Thank you for considering this urgent request. 

 

Sincerely,

                       

                                                FRANK PALLONE, JR.                               MICHAEL GRIMM

                                                Member of Congress                                 Member of Congress

 

                                                ADAM SCHIFF                                             DAVID VALADAO

                                                Member of Congress                                  Member of Congress