Congress was nearly unanimous in voting to recognize the historical genocide of 1.5 million Armenians except for Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and two other members.
The Minnesota representative ultimately did not vote to recognize it; instead, she voted “present” and blamed the United States’ history of abuses in her reasoning.
BizPac Review reports Omar also disapproved of the timing of the vote as she claims it is being used to make a statement against Turkey for their invasion of Northern Syria:
In defending her widely panned decision, the congresswoman released a statement accusing her congressional peers of trying to use the genocide of 1.5 million people as a “cudgel” against Turkey, and suggesting that she’d only condemn Turkey’s genocidal actions if Congress first condemned the United States.
In a statement shared with CNN, Omar said America should first recognize its own “mass slaughters.”
“I believe accountability for human rights violations — especially ethnic cleansing and genocide — is paramount,” Omar said. “But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as a cudgel in a political fight. It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics.”
“A true acknowledgment of historical crimes against humanity must include both the heinous genocides of the 20th century, along with earlier mass slaughters like the transatlantic slave trade and Native American genocide, which took the lives of hundreds of millions of indigenous people in this country. For this reason, I voted ‘present’ in the final passage,” Omar continued.
Omar's office has sent this statement to CNN explaining her present vote: pic.twitter.com/Gpj198jx0p
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) October 29, 2019
Several people online, including people who previously defended Omar against claims of anti-Semitism, criticized the vote and her reason.
“This is bulls–t,” Eli Valley, a cartoonist, tweeted. “The genocide is a historical fact, and regardless of why it passed today, it’s ludicrous to demand that a century-delayed resolution encompass every other atrocity known to humankind before it can gain approval.”
This is bullshit. The genocide is a historical fact, and regardless of why it passed today, it's ludicrous to demand that a century-delayed resolution encompass every other atrocity known to humankind before it can gain approval. https://t.co/YsQL5QDhzp
— Eli Valley (@elivalley) October 29, 2019
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes described Omar of acting for show but failing to stand up when it matters: “The defense Rep. Omar and her supporters have against her critics is that she’s been unsparing in taking on various foreign policy shibboleths and speaking truth to power about human rights infractions of various US allies, infractions often swept under the rug for real politique.”
Her "present" vote on the Armenian genocide resolution is a bit tough to square with that. Not to say there aren't real politique reasons to avoid enraging Turkey, there are, and it's why the resolution has died a thousand deaths. But that's not usually Omar's thing.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) October 29, 2019
Here are even more responses:
Not recognizing a genocide always goes along with the danger of allowing this to be repeated. Understand your responsibilities as a representative, @IlhanMN. Especially if you claim to support minority rights #ArmenianGenocide
— Düzen Tekkal (@DuezenTekkal) October 30, 2019
The US House of Representatives just voted 405 to 11, to recognise the Armenian Genocide in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Turks.
Democrat @IlhanMN REFUSED to vote in favour of this recognition.
1.5 million Christians were exterminated. In cold blood.
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) October 30, 2019
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) October 30, 2019
This was a bad mistake @IlhanMN. As one of your constituents, I’m extremely disappointed that you’d vote “present” on a historic opportunity to recognize a too-often forgotten genocide that killed 1.5 million innocent people. “Never again” requires acknowledging it happened. https://t.co/TiHHcO2Wo1
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) October 30, 2019
The Turks killed 75% of an entire people group and forced the rest into diaspora. Children without parents, people separated from their families forever. That @IlhanMN cannot acknowledge these atrocities singularly and without qualification speaks volumes about her character. https://t.co/smJX9xXhpZ
— Ellen Carmichael (@ellencarmichael) October 30, 2019
Omar tried to clarify her stance in a tweet where she said: “of course we should acknowledge the Genocide.”
👋🏽 This is classic “real politique!”
My issue was not with the substance of this resolution. *Of course* we should acknowledge the Genocide.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 29, 2019