On Aug. 24, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation memorializing the Armenian Genocide and declaring Oct. 2017 as ‘Armenia Awareness Month’ in the Hawkeye State.
The signing was attended by members of the Armenian community, including Father Tadeos Barseghyan of the St. Sahag Armenian Church of Minnesota, and Armen Sahakyan of the Armenian National Committee of America – Eastern Region (ANCA-ER). St. Sahag is the closest Armenian church serving the Armenian-American community of Iowa.
“Iowa’s commemoration and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide strikes a powerful blow against the hatred and intolerance which contribute to the ongoing vicious cycle of genocide plaguing society to this day,” said Sahakyan, an ANCA-ER Board Member. Sahakyan spent a portion of his youth living in Iowa. “We would like to thank Governor Reynolds, Representative Art Staed, and all of our coalition partners for their principled stance in ensuring that truth prevails against international attempts to subvert justice for this and all other crimes against humanity,” he added.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds with members of the community after signing the proclamation (Photo: ANCA-ER)
The Philos Project Executive Director Robert Nicholson noted, “The Ottoman genocide of the Armenian people was one of the most brutal acts in history and clear evidence that evil still moves in the world. To deny the genocide is to ignore that evil, and to ignore that evil is to betray our values as Americans. By recognizing the genocide, the people of Iowa are declaring their willingness to defend human life, protect minority communities, and preserve our national heritage. We at The Philos Project thank and congratulate Governor Reynolds for her boldness and moral clarity. She epitomizes the kind of principled leader we need more of today.”
Iraqi Christian Relief Council Board Member Denise Bubeck said, “This is an important step in standing up for the many Christians who have lost their lives by injustice. As a Christian, I believe that every life deserves dignity and respect just as God values every human life so this proclamation gives me an opportunity again to speak for the value of every life no matter their faith.”
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (center) with Armen Sahakyan (L) and Artur Martirosyan (R) of the ANCA-ER (Photo: ANCA-ER)
“Mankind must seek justice for those whose lives are brutally altered for all of history,” said President of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council and the Senior Fellow for the Philos Project Juliana Taimoorazy. “This marks a historic step forward towards this sacred endeavor.”
Coordinator for the Iowans for Armenia Charles Crawley said, “As a civilized humanity, we all should care about the Armenian Genocide and all other crimes against humanity. ‘Iowans for Armenia’ is proud to continue the relationship created between the American and Armenian people that stretches back to the humanitarian assistance provided by the missionaries and people of good conscience of our great state through the Near East Relief. Today’s signing of the proclamation was an important step in securing some measure of justice for the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek people.”
Noting that the Ottoman Turkish government’s crime “still requires justice,” Gov. Reynolds’ proclamation cited Adolph Hitler’s ominous reference to the murder of the Armenian people just days prior to his invasion of Poland and the ensuing Holocaust, which claimed the lives of over 6 million Jews, and resulted in the decimation of other targeted racial and religious minorities. The document recounts the cycle of subsequent genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries, specifically citing the 2016 Congressional condemnation of the Islamic State genocide against Middle East Christians, Yezidis and other minorities. It concludes with the assertion that by “recognizing and consistently remembering the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust and all cases of past and ongoing genocide, we help protect historic memory, ensure that similar atrocities do not occur again and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution and tyranny.”
Below is footage of the signing ceremony, which took place at the Iowa State Assembly. The ANCA-ER webcast the signing ceremony live from Governor Reynolds’ formal office.
Iowa’s recognition comes a little more than three months after the Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 191, titled “Recognizing the Armenian Genocide,” on May 19, and becoming the 46th state in the U.S. to officially classify and commemorate the 1915-1923 annihilation of Ottoman Turkey’s indigenous Armenian community as genocide. The proclamation can be read in its entirety below.
An image of the proclamation memorializing the Armenian Genocide and declaring Oct. 2017 as ‘Armenia Awareness Month’ (Photo: ANCA-ER)
State of Iowa
In The Name And By The Authority Of The State Of Iowa
WHEREAS, from 1915-1923 during the Armenian Genocide, one and one-half million ethnic Armenian men, women and children as well as over one million Greeks, Assyrians, Syriacs and others were massacred as part of the planned complete eradication of those indigenous communities by the Ottoman Turkish Empire during the first modern genocide that still requires justice; and
WHEREAS, prior to the implementation of the Holocaust, in order to garner support from his followers, Adolf Hitler asked, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”; and
WHEREAS, the Holocaust was the state-sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945 – six million Jews were murdered; Roma (Gypsies), people with disabilities and Poles were also targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic or national reasons; and millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war and political dissidents, also suffered grievous oppression and death under Nazi tyranny; and
WHEREAS, other cases of genocide include the killings in Cambodia in 1975, the massacres in Bosnia in 1992, the slaughter in Rwanda in 1994 and now in the 21st century, the displacements and deaths in Darfur as well as targeting of religious minorities by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East; and
WHEREAS, the United States House of Representatives has adopted H.Con.Res. 75, declaring the atrocities perpetrated by the ISIL against Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; and
WHEREAS, by recognizing and consistently remembering the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust and all cases of past and ongoing genocide, we help protect historic memory, ensure that similar atrocities do not occur again and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution and tyranny:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kim Reynolds, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim the month of October, 2017 as
ARMENIA AWARENESS MONTH
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I HAVE
HEREUNTO SUBSCRIBED MY NAME AND
CAUSED THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF
IOWA TO BE AFFIXED. DONE AT DES
MOINES THIS 24TH DAY OF AUGUST IN THE YEAR
OF OUR LORD TWO THOUSAND SEVENTEEN.
GOVERNOR OF IOWA
PAUL D. PATE
SECRETARY OF STATE