Illinois State House of Representatives

April 24, 1997

State of Illinois
90th General Assembly


WHEREAS, The United States has always been a haven for the persecuted and oppressed, whether by reason of religion or nationality; and

WHEREAS, We who cherish our freedom can never take it for granted; we who respect justice can never be totally secure in it; and

WHEREAS, When freedom is challenged anywhere, all humankind must rise up in protest; we must all use our voices and our influence to meet those challenges and help protect individual life and liberty; and

WHEREAS, No other human rights violation deserves greater protest and attention and demands firmer condemnation by freedom-loving people than genocide; and

WHEREAS, For the Armenian people, the horror and inhumanity of this devastating crime began in 1915 when young men of Armenian origin were drafted into the Turkish army, soon to be disarmed, transferred to labor battalions, and then massacred; and

WHEREAS, On April 24, 1915, authorities of the Ottoman Empire arrested the most prominent intellectuals and leaders of Constantinople; they were exiled to the interior of Anatolia, either perishing on the way or meeting their fate on arrival; and

WHEREAS, The Armenians were rounded up, brutally driven from their homes and their land, separated from families, robbed of everything they owned, and stripped of possessions they carried with them; and

WHEREAS, On a death march to Der-El-Zor, more than a million died of starvation or were killed; thousands of Christian Armenians were tortured and murdered for refusing to accept Islam as their religion; the atrocities inflicted on Armenians in concentration camps and on death marches to Der-El-Zor in the Syrian desert resemble those of the Holocaust of World War II; and

WHEREAS, During this act of genocide, 1.5 million people of Armenian ancestry were victims from 1915 to 1923; at the outbreak of World War I, the Young Turk regime decided to deport the entire Armenian population of about 1.75 million to Syrian and Mesopotamia; and

WHEREAS, Talaat Pasha, leader of the Young Turk movement, was the principal author of the plan to exterminate the Armenians; the plan of genocide consisted of deporting all Armenians of whatever age or condition of health to the totally barren Der-El-Zor region of what is now Syria; and

WHEREAS, The massacre of Armenians who remained in Turkey was called the "most colossal crime of all ages" by the examining American military mission's report to the United States Congress; and

WHEREAS, In a telegram sent by U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau to the Secretary of State, Morgenthau warned that "a campaign of race extermination is in progress under a pretext of reprisal against rebellion"; and

WHEREAS, Each year, with solemn religious and patriotic ceremony, Armenians in the international community honor those who died in 1915 and remind all people that genocide on any scale is a crime against all humanity; and

WHEREAS, Adolph Hitler, when questioned as to the "final solution" to the Jewish question, said, "Who remembers the Armenians?"; and

WHEREAS, April 24, 1997 will be commemorated by Armenians in this country and throughout the world in remembrance of the first instance of genocide in this century; and

WHEREAS, The People of Illinois, as represented by the General Assembly and the Governor, should be mindful of these tragic events, should further assure that no future tyrant may ever ask the question asked by Hitler and should act in a spirit of justice and humanity to designate April 24, 1997 as Armenian Martyrs Day, a day of remembrance of man's inhumanity to man; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETIETH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we commemorate April 24, 1997 as a day of remembrance of the 82nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call upon the people of Illinois to observe that day by remembering the 1.5 million people of Armenian ancestry who lost their lives during that terrible time; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we request Governor Jim Edgar to proclaim April 24, 1997 as a day of remembrance in honor of the victims of the Armenian Genocide; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be presented to Governor Jim Edgar.