Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar is facing criticism after she refused to give support for the House vote on the recognition of the early 20th-century Armenian Genocide, which passed the chamber by 405 to 11 votes with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Responding to the backlash, Omar released a statement arguing that votes to acknowledge historic human rights abuses should not be a political weapon, used as a stick against America’s opponents.
According to The Hill, Omar said that while she believes that accountability for human rights abuses is “paramount,” she also believes that “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.”
If Congress truly wishes to acknowledge historic crimes against humanity, Omar added, it should look closer to home.
She argued that such a step “must include both the heinous genocides of the 20th century, along with earlier mass slaughters like the transatlantic slave trade and the Native American genocide, which took the lives of hundreds of millions of people in this country.” For this reason, Omar said she voted “present” on the bill.
The Armenian Genocide took place in the Ottoman Empire from roughly 1915 to 1923 and is thought to have claimed more than 1 million people, though the figure is disputed.