Washington (AINA) -- Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who represents the 18th congressional district in California, has come under heavy criticism for failing to mention Assyrians and Greeks in her statement on the Turkish genocide of Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks. The 18th district includes San Jose, home to 12,000 Assyrians.
The Turkish Genocide of Christians occurred during World War One, between 1915 and 1918. The genocide claimed the lives of 750,000 Assyrians (75%), 1 million Greeks and 1.5 million Armenians. The International Association of Genocide Scholars recognized the Assyrian and Greek genocides in 2007.
Related: The Assyrian Genocide
Representative Eshoo, who has an Assyrian father and an Armenian mother, posted the following statement on her Facebook page:
On this day 102 years ago the world bore witness to the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians and other minorities by the Ottoman Empire.
Despite efforts beginning in 1975 to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide, Congress has yet to acknowledge what took place 102 years ago. I'm proud to have consistently cosponsored the Armenian Genocide Resolution in every Congress I've served in to have formal recognition by the government of the United States, and I will not rest until we are successful.
Let us take the time today to remember the 1.5 million people who were taken from us--parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. Each succeeding generation will hold them in their hearts and we will never forget. May we honor them by rising to the occasion and formally recognizing their loss and collectively say, "Never again."
She referred to Assyrians and Greeks as "other minorities" even though when combined more were killed than Armenians. This is the second time she has refused to name the Assyrian and Greek victims of the Turkish genocide. Her 2015 statement on the 100th anniversary of the genocide also used the term "other minorities."
Carlo Ganjeh, the American representative of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, a global Assyrian umbrella organization, expressed disappointment at Representative Eshoo's failure to name the Assyrians and Greeks in her statement. Mr. Ganjeh sent the following letter to her office:
On April 24, 2017, I learned that the Office of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo had released a statement in support of the Armenian Genocide but had unfortunately not included any statement about the other 2 nations that were victims of the Young Turk genocide -- the Assyrians Greeks. As you may know, these nations also faced the same regretful fate as did our Armenian brothers and sisters.
In the past, the office of Congresswoman Eshoo had a policy to include these nations by name versus a generic description of them as "minorities", that potential unintentional oversight has caused a significant issue within our Assyrian American community who are her supporters.
Could you please consider making the necessary corrections to that statement and add Assyrian/Greek nations are specified?
We would hate for the great work of our Congresswoman in the Assyrian community to be in any way tarnished by this potential oversight given her dedication to our Assyrian struggle, as she has been backbone of the Assyrian awareness campaign for over 25 years.
Rosie Malek Yonan, an Assyrian activist and author of The Crimson Field, a novel about the genocide, published an open letter on her blog to Representative Eshoo, in which she said "Assyrians may be a stateless nation, but we are not invisible. We are not nameless and we are certainly not the "other minorities" as you have callously labeled us in your April 24, 2017 statement" and "Is the Assyrian name so offensive to you that you couldn't show some semblance of respect for the Assyrians as well as the Greeks in this case to mention them directly?"
Thea Halo, whose mother is Greek and father Assyrian, both survivors of the genocide, and who wrote a book about her mother's experience titled Not Even My Name, said the following in an email to AINA:
As a woman of Assyrian and Pontic Greek decent, I have felt proud of the fact that a fellow Assyrian had been elected to the US Congress. And I am pleased that you have taken it upon yourself to bring the Armenian Genocide to the attention of other members of Congress and call for a Resolution recognizing the Genocide.
However, it is long past time for the full story of the tragedy that befell the Christians of Ottoman Turkey to be revealed? In 2007, The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) affirmed that the Assyrians and Pontian and other Asia Minor Greeks, (who had made Asia Minor their home for three and four millennia) had also suffered a genocide comparable to the genocide of the Armenians during the same time and place.
I believe I speak for the many descendants of this great crime, and for those who actually lived through this crime, such as my mother, who died in 2014 at the age of 105 years, we implore you to set the record straight once and for all. Pass a resolution that recognizes all three Christian victims of the Ottoman Genocide, Assyrians, Pontian and other Asia Minor Greeks, and Armenians between 1913-1923.
Nearly all the comments on Representative Eshoo's facebook page were critical of her for not naming Assyrians and Greeks. One person wrote "Instead of saying never again to a genocide we should say never again to you holding office." Another person wrote "An Assyrian women that bares an Assyrian last name fails to mention 'Assyrian Genocide.' How do you sit here and supposedly be a voice for your people but fail to mention that we were massacred on many different occasions."
Although Congresswoman Eshoo has been generally supportive of Assyrian issues, Assyrian community leaders have communicated to her in the past their dissatisfaction of omitting the Assyrians in her statements on the Turkish genocide.
AINA contacted the Washington office of Representative Eshoo and was told by a staff member that her press secretary would return our call. No call had been received by publication time.