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House Takes Off Kid Gloves, Votes on 1915 Slaughter

Passes resolution recognizing Armenian genocide 405-11
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2019 7:31 AM CDT
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In this April 24, 2019, file photo, protesters hold portraits of Armenian intellectuals during a rally held to commemorate the 104th anniversary of the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Turks in Istanbul.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

(Newser) – House lawmakers on Tuesday removed the kid gloves and voted to formally recognize the Armenian genocide. It's the first time a chamber of Congress has branded the 1915 slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks as such. Lawmakers had been loath to do so because of the US relationship with NATO ally Turkey—which has refused the term genocide. But with what the New York Times describes as a "new torrent of bipartisan furor at Turkey" in the wake of its attack on Kurdish forces in Syria, Nancy Pelosi put the measure up for a vote, saying, "Too often, tragically, the truth of the staggering crime has been denied." The House overwhelmingly passed the legislation—penned by Rep. Adam Schiff, who has tried for 19 years to bring it to the House floor—405-11.

The BBC reports it's generally accepted as fact that "hundreds of thousands" of Armenians died when the Ottoman Turks—who were allied with Germany in WWI—deported them from its eastern provinces to the Syrian desert and beyond to prevent them from aligning with Russia; they died while on the move, from starvation, and at the hands of Ottoman Turk soldiers. Turkey maintains only 300,000 died; that it's incorrect to call the killings premeditated or systemic; and that many Turks were also killed. Turkey's foreign minister took to Twitter to blast the "shameful decision of those exploiting history in politics," calling it "null & void for our Government & people." The AP reports Turkey's foreign ministry on Wednesday says it has summoned US Ambassador David Satterfield over that resolution and a second one passed by the House related to sanctions. (Read more Armenian genocide stories.)

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