November 17, 2012 - 13:51 AMT
Congressman urges U.S. protection for Syria’s Armenian community

Congressman James McGovern (D-MA) has called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure that the United States acts with "increased vigilance in demanding that all parties in Syria protect minority populations, including Armenians and other Christian communities that have been caught in the cross-fire between opposing forces," reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

"We very much appreciate Congressman McGovern's leadership and constructive engagement with the Department of State in ensuring that American aid reaches all those in need in Syria, including Armenians, other Christians, and all victims of violence and depravation in and around the Aleppo region," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.

"We share his concern for the welfare of the innocent victims of this conflict, and join with him in calling upon the Administration to apply the full force of American diplomacy in impressing upon all parties in Syria that they must protect minorities and all at-risk populations."

In a letter sent earlier to Secretary Clinton, Representative McGovern, who serves as Co-Chairman of the Tom Lantos Congressional Human Rights Caucus, voiced his strong support for U.S. humanitarian efforts, including an ANCA-backed provision in the House Appropriations Committee's version of the FY13 State-Foreign Operations Bill calling on the State Department to prioritize humanitarian and resettlement assistance for minority communities, including Armenians and other Christian populations in Syria.

Congressman McGovern also highlighted for Secretary Clinton the fact that "the Armenian community of Syria, particularly those in and around the Aleppo region, includes a great many descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide and the forced death marches through the Syrian desert. These Armenians, along with other Christian and minority populations, are, today, increasingly the victims of violence - in the form of bombings, sniper attacks, murders, kidnapping, and acts of destruction and desecration of holy sites. Only recently, the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Memorial Church in Deir Zor, a site of pilgrimage for Armenians worldwide, was severely damaged as a result of shelling from unidentified assailants."