Ilhan Omar refuses to back vote recognising Armenian genocide

Congresswoman says 'a true acknowledgement of historical crimes against humanity' must include 'earlier mass slaughters like the transatlantic slave trade'

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Ilhan Omar declined to vote in favour of a resolution recognising the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as a genocide, saying any "true acknowledgement" of such crimes must include other historical "mass slaughters".

The Minnesota Democrat was one of just three House members to vote “present” on the resolution that passed in an overwhelming 405-11 vote.

The congresswoman said in a statement shortly after the vote she believes in “accountability for human rights violations” 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”, she said.

Ms Omar appeared to be referring to the increasingly tense developments surrounding Turkey’s invasion into Syria after the US pulled its troops out of the region.

“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”, she continued in the statement sent to CNN.

All 11 House members who voted “no” on the resolution were Republican. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, and Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat, joined Ms Omar in voting “present”.

Democratic leaders in the House celebrated the passing of the resolution, including House Intelligence Committee Chairmen Adam Schiff, who wrote on Twitter: “The House just voted to recognise the Armenian Genocide - a vote I fought for 19 years to make possible, that tens of thousands of my Armenian American constituents have waited decades to see."

“We will not be party to genocide denial”, he added. “We will not be silent. We will never forget."

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement the resolution was passed “in solemn remembrance of one of the great atrocities of the 20th Century”.

Turkish officials meanwhile slammed the resolution, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said “This step which was taken is worthless and we do not recognise it”, the BBC reported.

The Turkish president also said the country’s parliament would respond to the US resolution.

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