News and Commentary

Omar Refuses To Recognize Armenian Genocide, Gives Bizarre Statement; Refuses To Sanction Turkey For Actions In Syria
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at the “Impeachment Now!” rally in support of an immediate inquiry towards articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump on the grounds of the U.S. Capital on September 26, 2019in Washington, DC.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MoveOn Political Action

Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN) voted “present” on Monday during a House vote recognizing the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire by the Young Turk government during World War I.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the resolution titled, “Affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide,” which officially recognized and condemned the genocide which resulted in the Young Turks murdering 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923.

Omar, who was one of only three lawmakers to vote “present,” released a statement on why she did not vote for the resolution:

I also believe accountability for human rights violations—especially ethnic cleansing and genocide—is paramount. But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as cudgel in a political fight. It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics. A true acknowledgement 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’ on final passage of H.Res. 296, the resolution Affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide.

The House also overwhelmingly passed the “Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act,” which sanctioned Turkey for its actions in northern Syria. Omar was the only Democrat to vote against it.

Omar — who likes to portray herself as a champion of human rights — has repeatedly condemned using sanctions against Iran, Turkey, and Venezuela because she claims that sanctions hurt innocent people, yet, Omar has repeatedly called for using sanctions against Israel.

Omar is an avid supporter of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement which is designed to destroy the state of Israel.

Omar’s refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide earned predictable outrage from the political Right, but also surprisingly drew intense criticism from the far-left, including some of her biggest supporters.

Emma Vigeland, who works for The Young Turks — a company that was allegedly named after the people who committed the genocide — said that Omar’s explanation was a “bad answer.”

A man named Hrag Vartanian, who describes himself as a vocal defender of Omar’s, said that her refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide was the final straw for him.

“I’ve been a vocal supporter of @IlhanMN but no more. There was absolutely no reason for her to not vote on something that is solid historical fact and use the typical [word] salad of denialists,” he wrote. “I once saw her as a human rights defender. The other present or no votes I care less about, because I never supported them, but this really hurt.”

Basketball player Enes Kanter wrote on Twitter: “What an absolute disappointment and shame that the only democrat who did NOT support the Turkish bill aiming to stop the killing of innocent people is @IlhanMN who seems like on #DictatorErdogan ‘s payroll working for his interests, but not for the American people and democracy!”

Minnesota State Democrat Representative Mari Manoogian tweeted: “I am deeply disappointed and, frankly, disgusted by this statement issued by @IlhanMN today regarding H.Res. 296. The whataboutism is from the textbook of denial that the Turkish government has engaged in for more than a century. Totally unacceptable.”

Investigative reporter Jordan Schachtel referenced one of his reports from earlier this year that highlighted a private meeting that Omar held with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, writing: “Ilhan Omar’s failure to vote for the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution has everything to do with her respect for Erdogan and his regime’s close ties with her native Somalia.”