April 21, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie “Kanchelian” Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) will travel to Armenia with a White House delegation to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. The delegation will include Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and several members of Congress. Speier is one of two Armenian-American members of Congress and a key sponsor of a bill to recognize the genocide. The delegation will leave on Wednesday, April 22.

“It’s thrilling and humbling to represent the United States and the Armenian-American community in remembering the many whose lives were coldly extinguished,” said Speier. “From an early age, my mother instilled in me the importance of recognizing the genocide and the anguish the Armenian people feel about the need to acknowledge it. I intend to speak the truth wherever I go. It is long past time for all nations, including the United States, to recognize the full horror imposed by the Ottoman empire and talk clearly about history.”

Speier is a five-time cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, which would express Congress’s recognition of the Ottoman empire’s systematic efforts to eliminate 1.5 million Armenians. She also passed a state Armenian Genocide Resolution when she was in the California legislature. Speier’s mother Nancy Kanchelian was born in Fresno to Armenian immigrants.

The Ottoman empire launched a plan on April 24, 1915, to eliminate all members of the Armenian Christian minority within its borders. It expelled them from their homes and force-marched them across Turkey to the Syrian desert without food or water, raping them, shooting them, and splitting their heads with axes as they traveled. Those who survived the trip were left in vast open-air camps to die.