In 2015 the UCC General Synod adopted a resolution Commemorating 100 Years since the Armenian Genocide, which began symbolically on April 24, 1915. The catastrophe resulted in the death of one and a half million Armenians, Syrian Orthodox, and others. Another million people were forcibly expelled from Anatolia over the next few years, many of whom resettled in Aleppo, Syria.
The resolution lamented the lost lives in the Genocide and highlighted the threats posed by mass violence and uprooting in places like Syria, where many of the descendants of the Genocide settled. In it the UCC reiterated its “abhorrence when peoples and communities are made victims of violence” based on any aspect of identity.
Over 60 million people are currently displaced by conflict worldwide – the highest number since World War II. Genocide and mass atrocities create regional instability and insecurity, and increase demands for costly humanitarian aid. The U.S., which regards genocide as a threat to its national interests, should invest in strategies that address the root causes of genocidal conflict and displacement.
In February 2016 Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), along with eighteen colleagues, introduced the bi-partisan Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (S.2551). The proposed legislation, which is being considered by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, would “enhance our Nation's capacity to prevent and address the drivers of mass atrocities and violent conflict as part of its humanitarian, development and strategic interests.”
The bill authorizes the Atrocities Prevention Board, establishes the Complex Crises Fund, requires training for Foreign Service Officers in violent conflict and atrocities prevention, and requires reporting from both the Department of State and Director for National Intelligence. These are critical tools that are needed to prevent violent conflict and save lives.
The UCC honors the long ties we share with the Armenian community, and recognizes April 24th of every year as Armenian Martyrs’ Day. We urge the U.S. to do more to safeguard communities targeted and threatened with violence and forced dislocation, as the Armenians of Anatolia were one hundred years ago. We believe that the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act will help address the root causes and drivers of violent conflict, not only saving lives and resources, but protecting U.S. and global security.
Urge Congress to quickly consider and pass the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act.