Rep Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is once again at the center of criticism for echoing language used by Turkey to deny the Armenian genocide took place.
Omar is one of two Democrats who voted “present” on a House resolution recognizing the systematic massacres of Armenian-Christians that took place in the early 20th century.
The resolution drew widespread support from both sides of the aisle in the House, passing with a vote of 405 to 11, and was brought to a vote alongside Democratic efforts to sanction Turkey for its incursion into northeastern Syria.
In a written explanation for her vote, Omar said that the recognition of genocide and mass atrocities should be done outside politics and “based on academic consensus,” a phrase that Armenian rights groups say Turkish deniers use to sow doubt.
“Rep. Omar’s suggestion that there is no ‘academic consensus’ effectively denies the Armenian Genocide,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America. “It basically takes a page from the Turkish Embassy’s denial playbook.”
Omar’s office sought to clarify that the congresswoman was stating she believes there is academic consensus on the fact that the genocide happened, emphasizing that her vote was a protest to the House using the genocide as a “political cudgel.”
The congresswoman also voted ‘no’ on legislation sanctioning Turkey for its offensive against U.S.-allied Syrian Kurds, saying sanctions hurt civilians more than the government.
The congresswoman wrote a thread on Twitter further clarifying her comments.
“This is classic “real politique!” My issue was not with the substance of this resolution. *Of course* we should acknowledge the Genocide,” she wrote.
About 1.5 million Armenian-Christians were systematically murdered by the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. Turkey denies that there is enough historical evidence to point to genocide and criticizes the events as disputed and controversial.
“The International Association of Genocide Scholars, the preeminent body on the subject, has repeatedly and unequivocally affirmed the fact of the Armenian Genocide,” said Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America.
“The suggestion that consensus is lacking is but a gloss of the Turkish denial argument. It is precisely for that very reason the resolution includes a firm rejection of genocide denial,” he said.