The US House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday officially recognizing the “Armenian genocide,” a symbolic but unprecedented move that angered Turkey amid already-heightened tensions with Washington.
Cheers and applause erupted when the chamber voted 405 to 11 in support of the measure “affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide,” a first for the US Congress, where similar measures with such direct language have been introduced for decades but never passed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was honored to join her colleagues “in solemn remembrance of one of the great atrocities of the 20th century: the systematic murder of more than 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children by the Ottoman Empire.”
The Armenians say the mass killings of their people from 1915 to 1917 amounted to genocide, a claim recognized by some 30 countries.
Turkey strongly denies the accusation of genocide and says that both Armenians and Turks died as a result of the First World War. It puts the death toll in the hundreds of thousands.
Ankara reacted swiftly, rejecting the House’s recognition as a “meaningless political step” and warning it risks harming ties “at an extremely fragile time” for international and regional security.
“We believe that American friends of Turkey who support the continuation of the alliance and friendly relations will question this grave mistake and those who are responsible will be judged by the conscience of the American people,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
In 2017, newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump criticized the early 20th century killings as “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century,” but in keeping with longstanding US practice, he stopped short of using the word genocide.
– ‘Never again’ –
Before being elected in 2008, Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had pledged to recognize the genocide, but ultimately did not do so during his two terms in office.
But Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, delivered bold remarks to the House on Tuesday, saying the truth of the “staggering crime” has been denied too often.
“Today, let us clearly state the facts on the floor of this House to be etched forever into the Congressional Record: the barbarism committed against the Armenian people was a genocide.”
The House measure, which passed on Turkey’s national day, came three weeks after Turkey invaded northeastern Syria and launched a broad assault on Kurdish-controlled areas that was made possible by the withdrawal of US troops.
Angry US lawmakers launched a two-punch rebuke, with the genocide measure passing alongside a bill that slaps sanctions on Turkey for its incursion.
That bipartisan measure imposes sanctions on senior Turkish officials involved in the decision to launch the invasion and a Turkish bank with ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and requires the Trump administration to penalize Turkey’s procurement of a Russian-made missile-defense system.
A similar sanctions bill was introduced in the Senate, but no vote has been taken.
In the face of pressure, the Trump administration itself announced more modest punitive measures on Turkey for the invasion, before lifting them when it negotiated a ceasefire with Ankara.
Former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic White House hopeful, praised the Armenia vote, tweeting that “by acknowledging this genocide we honor the memory of its victims and vow: never again.”
It was also welcomed outside the political realm. US television reality star Kim Kardashian, who has Armenian ancestry, tweeted about the vote to her 62 million followers.
“This is personal for me, and millions of Armenians who descended from genocide survivors,” she said.
According to estimates, there are between 500,000 and 1.5 million Americans of Armenian origin.
New Zealand may postpone general election after 4 test positive for COVID-19: PM Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand locked down nursing homes nationwide Wednesday after a 102-day streak without the coronavirus ended, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the outbreak could force her to postpone next month's general election.
Ardern said authorities were scrambling to trace anyone who had been in contact with four Auckland residents who tested positive Tuesday, ending the dream run in which the virus had been contained at New Zealand's borders.
A three-day stay-at-home order for Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city with a population of 1.5 million, was announced on Tuesday night and went into force at lunchtime on Wednesday.
Android phones to get ‘ShakeAlert’ earthquake warnings — and phones may double as tremor detectors
Android phones will receive warnings triggered by a "ShakeAlert" earthquake early-warning system implemented on the West Coast by the US Geological Survey and partners.
ShakeAlert uses signals from hundreds of seismometers across the state to trigger warning messages that "an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent," according to the system's website.
"We saw an opportunity to use Android to provide people with timely, helpful earthquake information when they search, as well as a few seconds warning to get themselves and their loved ones to safety if needed," principal software engineer Marc Stogaitis said in a blog post.
‘Don’t talk about racism, racist’: Trump scorched after claiming Biden-Harris campaign has a ‘racism problem’
President Donald Trump continued to lash out at Kamala Harris after the California Democrat was chosen to join the 2020 Democratic Party ticket as presumptive nominee Joe Biden's running mate.
At a news conference following the selection, Trump complained about Harris being "nasty."
After 10 p.m. on Monday, Trump tweeted out an attack ad claiming "Joe Biden has a racism problem."
Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's line of attack: