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US House votes by overwhelming majority to recognise the Armenian genocide

7 November 2019

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The US House of Representatives has voted 405-11 in favour of recognising the mass killings of Armenians during World War One as genocide.

This was the first time in 35 years that legislation on the issue was considered in the full House, and comes at a time of deteriorating US-Turkey relations. To become official policy, the resolution also needs to be approved by the Senate and ratified by the president.

Armenian civilians, escorted by Ottoman soldiers, marching through the ancient town of Harput in Turkey to prison, in April 1915. Many of those pictured were among the 1.5 million killed in the Armenian genocide of 1915-1918

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the “worthless” vote, which was held on 29 October, Turkey's National Day, was the "biggest insult" to Turkish people. The Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan welcomed the move as “a bold step towards serving truth and historical justice”.

Earlier this year, Armenian-born politician Garo Paylan said “hate attacks” take place against churches and synagogues in Turkey several times a year. He commented, “hate generating politics must be terminated” after the menacing words “you are finish” were sprayed in English and Arabic on Surp Hreshdagabet Armenian Church, Istanbul on 23 February.

The Armenian Genocide, officially recognised by 28 countries , was perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government against its Armenian subjects during World War One. The year 1915 was the peak of the violence, which occurred periodically during three decades. Over 1.5 million Armenians are thought to have died – men, women and children – in a state sanctioned genocide that became the Ottoman authorities’ answer to the “Armenian question” in their quest to create a purely Turkish and Muslim state. Some Armenians saved their lives by converting to Islam, demonstrating that the motivation for the genocide was religious not racial.

Ottoman Turks also massacred an estimated 750,000 Assyrian Christians between 1915 and 1918 and slaughtered up to 1.5 million Greeks between 1914 and 1923.

The 28 countries that officially recognise the Armenian Genocide include Argentina, Chile, Germany and Russia.