Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) was one of three U.S. representatives to vote “present” on a bill recognizing the Armenian Genocide and the only member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation to not support the bill.
The bill passed Tuesday in a non-binding vote of 405-11 and affirms that it is “the policy of the United States to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance.” Those who supported the bill agreed to “reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States Government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide.”
The resolution calls for “education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the United States’ role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.”
Omar was joined by Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30) in voting “present” on the resolution.
“I believe accountability for human rights violations—especially ethnic cleansing and genocide—is paramount. But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as a cudgel in a political fight. It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics,” Omar said in statement released Tuesday evening.
Omar's office has sent this statement to CNN explaining her present vote: pic.twitter.com/Gpj198jx0p
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) October 29, 2019
Omar said a “true acknowledgment of historical crimes against humanity must include both the heinous genocides of the 20th century, along with earlier mass slaughters like the transatlantic slave trade and Native American genocide, which took the lives of hundreds of millions of indigenous people in this country.”
Political analyst Zaid Jilani noted that Congress has passed “many resolutions condemning abuses against Native Americans and slavery.”
“It has never passed a resolution condemning the Armenian Genocide. That’s why Ilhan Omar’s explanation here rings hollow,” he continued.
Congress has passed many resolutions condemning abuses against Native Americans and slavery. It has never passed a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide. That's why Ilhan Omars explanation here rings hollow https://t.co/HztWDR8zGf
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) October 29, 2019
Jilani went on to reveal that Omar didn’t sign a letter sent to President Donald Trump asking him to recognize the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian National Committee of America gave Omar a C-plus grade on its annual report card.
Ilhan Omar didn't sign the previous letter to President Trump asking him to recognize the Armenian genocide. She also did not co-sponsor the Armenian genocide resolution. https://t.co/FwuyZwgRYP
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) October 30, 2019
The Minnesota Democrat’s refusal to support the bill sparked outrage on social media Wednesday and a number of Armenian leaders from her home state voiced displeasure with Omar when speaking with The Star Tribune.
“This is recognizing the victims and their descendants,” said Rev. Tadeos Barseghyan, pastor of St. Sahag Armenian Church in St. Paul. “Is there a right or wrong time to stand up for justice that she claims to be a champion for?”
Gov. Tim Walz said on Twitter that the Armenian Genocide “is historical fact, and the denial of that fact is a continuation of the genocide.”
“As a member of Congress, I sponsored this legislation. The memory of the victims and the commitment to the survivors demands that history acknowledge the lives lost,” he added.
The #ArmenianGenocide is historical fact, and the denial of that fact is a continuation of the genocide. As a member of Congress, I sponsored this legislation.
The memory of the victims and the commitment to the survivors demands that history acknowledge the lives lost. https://t.co/Wz6N9DkRAM
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) October 30, 2019
WCCO radio host Jordana Green called on Omar’s constituents to vote her out of office.
“First it was the Jews, now Ilhan Omar is turning her back on her Armenian constituents,” she said. “She must be voted out.”
To my Armenian friends, I hear you, I see you and the tragedies of your past must be recognized. First it was the Jews, now @IlhanMN is turning her back on her Armenian constituents. She must be voted out. @GovTimWalz @wccoradio
— Jordana Green (@JordanaWCCO) October 30, 2019
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ilhan Omar and President Erdogan ” by Ilhan Omar.