15 October 2007

2059) Please Support Congressman Harman Harrasssed by ANCA

Jane Harman: http://www.house.gov/harman/contact/email.shtml

To the Honorable Congressman Harman:

As a citizen of Turkey, I am writing to thank you for withdrawing your support of H.Res.106.

I know that the American people have worked hard throughout the years to achieve and maintain their democracy. While our democracy is much younger, like Americans, we Turks have also worked hard and struggled to build our democracy, and while it is imperfect like all other democracies, we continue to work every day to improve it. However, if the U.S. Congress adopts H. Res. 106, it is very possible that they may unwittingly undo all that we Turks have worked so hard to achieve since we first obtained our independence in 1923.

Unlike the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide stands disputed. The difficulty lies in the fact that the request to Turks to accept events that occurred during WWI focuses only on the last few years of an ongoing series of wars fought between 1820 and 1923 and waged between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Starting around 1820, the Russians and the Armenians on the Russian side systematically massacred and removed large masses of Turkic and Muslim people, estimated to be around two million, from the Caucuses and eastern Anatolia either into the Russian hinterlands or into central and southern Anatolia.

To start a review of this history in 1914-1915 is like reviewing WW2 starting only in 1943 and condemning the Americans and Allies of terrible acts of inhumanity for the mass bombing of German industrial cities, without discussing the bombing of London and other English cities by the Luftwaffe.

The voices and stories of the dead Turkic and Muslim people are never heard when the focus is on the last of these series of related events. As offered by Turkey's Prime Minister, a joint Armenian and Turkish review that includes other involved third parties from the period is the best way to achieve acceptance by all of the terrible horrors experienced by the Armenian and the Turkic people during that time span. It would also be the only fair way to remember all who suffered and to improve relations between Turks and Armenians, which should be the ultimate and only goal.

Passing H. Resolution 106, however, is more likely to ensure that the wedge driven between Armenians and Turks as a strategy of war by others remains solidly in place.

Reconciliation and improved relations can only result after a fair review of the totality of events that led to the conflict between Armenians and Turks. It is this that would ultimately benefit both Turks and Armenians, and that is what we should all strive to achieve.

You have a unique opportunity to use your position and power to bring our people together again, but H. Resolution 106 cannot accomplish that.

I therefore want to thank you for withdrawing your support of H. Res. 106 and I urge you to consider exploring other means for recognizing the horrors experienced by our forefathers that will lead to the reconciliation of relations between Turks and Armenians.

Sincerely,





Now not the time for genocide vote
www.chinapost.com October 14, 2007
By Jane Harman, Special to the Los Angeles Times

As one whose own family was decimated by the Holocaust, I respond very personally to charges that I would deny the existence of savage acts of inhumanity against a group of people because of ethnic, religious or racial differences -- be they Jews, Darfurians, Rwandans or Armenians.

Yet that's exactly what I was accused of last week after I sent a letter to Rep. Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urging him to withdraw HR 106, which I had co-sponsored earlier in the year. Some Armenian Americans, whose passion I appreciate, have misinterpreted my determination that the time is not right to vote on such a resolution as "denial" of the Armenian genocide. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No question: The debate raging in Washington, D.C., over the Armenian genocide resolution is personal. Similar resolutions have passed the House twice -- in 1975 and 1984 -- and we are poised to pass another before Thanksgiving. Whether it will be brought to a vote in the Senate remains unclear.

I originally co-sponsored the resolution because I was convinced that the terrible crime against the Armenian people should be recognized and condemned. But after a visit in February to Turkey, where I met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Armenian Orthodox patriarch and colleagues of murdered Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, I became convinced that passing this resolution again at this time would isolate and embarrass a courageous and moderate Islamic government in perhaps the most volatile region in the world.

So I agree with eight former secretaries of State who said that passing the resolution "could endanger our national security interests in the region, including our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia."

Timing matters. I asked a leader in California's Armenian American community just days ago why the resolution was being pushed now. "They didn't ask me," he said. It wasn't his call, and he probably would not have pushed it.

So what is the endgame? I would hope that, regardless of the outcome of the vote, Turkey and Armenia will work toward reconciliation and normalization of relations.

About 70,000 Armenians live in Turkey, and Turkey continues to admit more. Yet Article 301 of Turkey's Constitution prohibits insulting "Turkishness" -- a disturbing provision that has been used to punish Armenians in Turkey who insist the genocide took place. Surely an act of reconciliation would be to embrace the Armenian population in Turkey and repeal Article 301.

Further, Turkey and Armenia have held recent talks about normalizing relations. They share mutual interests in trade, especially in the energy sector. Now is a good time to engage.

And, of course, there is the need for stability in the region. Turkey shares a border with Iraq, and the need for its continued restraint with the Kurds and for its leadership in promoting stability and resolving the Israel-Palestine issue is obvious. Armenia can help.

In a democracy, groups have the right to protest, and I respect the right of California's large Armenian community to disagree with my position on the timing of yet a third congressional vote on the genocide. But once that vote occurs, that fabulously talented community can channel its passion and energy into productive next steps toward reconciliation.

Condemning horror is important. But moving through the anger and psychic hurt to positive action is true emancipation.

Harman, a Democrat, represents California's 36th Congressional District.

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