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Politics foils Armenians' hopes of genocide recognition — again

Melissa Etehad, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

It seemed like the moment Paul Jamushian had been waiting for his whole life.

On Oct. 29, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 405 to 11 in favor of a resolution to recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians more than a century ago as a genocide. Quick approval by the Senate appeared possible.

But the 80-year-old Jamushian, whose parents survived the slaughter by Ottoman Turks, will have to keep waiting.

Politics had once again intervened -- this time the incursion by Turkey into northeastern Syria last month and a White House visit Wednesday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"I feel like I got played," said Jamushian, who lives in Fresno, Calif. "It makes me angry."

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who has coauthored resolutions to recognize the Armenian genocide since 2006, requested the unanimous consent of the Senate on Wednesday to pass the latest attempt.

 

"The United States Congress cannot stand idly by and let the truth of genocide be silenced," he told fellow senators. "We must commit ourselves to learning the painful history of the Armenians as we seek to build a better world for our own and future generations."

That's when Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., who had joined Erdogan's meeting with President Donald Trump, objected and blocked the request, arguing that senators shouldn't "sugarcoat history or try to rewrite it."

"I do hope that Turkey and Armenia can come together and deal with this problem," he said.

Turkish authorities refuse to call the massacre a genocide because they claim that the killings were not systematic and that people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds, including Turkish Muslims, died during World War I.

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