The Genocide Determination Bill sponsored by Lord David Alton was given a Second Reading in the House of Lords this week as peers agreed to commit it to a Committee of the whole House for further consideration.
“Next year will mark the 75th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, but we are nowhere near having clear mechanisms to help us deliver on the duty contained therein to prevent the very core of the convention — “never again” — happening all over again,” Alton said at the debate.
Lord Ara Darzi paid tribute to Alton for the passionate and determined way he has pursued this vital issue over many years.
“As the first Armenian in the British Parliament, and as a descendent of a Genocide survivor, I owe him a particular debt. I was born in Iraq to Armenian parents made refugees by the 1915 genocide, in which more than 1 million ethnic Armenians were massacred by the Ottomans. I say that I am a Genocide survivor, and in 33 countries around the world that description would be acknowledged, yet the country I have made my home is not one of them,” he said.
“My great-grandfather, who lived in Erzurum in what is now north-east Turkey, was executed along with his sons by the Ottoman forces. My grandmother, then just a teenager, escaped with her mother, and the two of them walked barefoot for weeks before finally finding sanctuary in Mosul in northern Iraq. They were the lucky ones. Many other women and children were sent on a death march across the desert from which they would never return. Half a century later, my family and I emigrated from Iraq to Ireland, where I studied medicine, before moving to London in the 1990s, where I have dedicated my career to the NHS [National Health Service],” he noted.
“As the first Armenian in this House, I was overjoyed when President Biden decided a year ago to break with his predecessors and recognize the Armenian genocide. The vote in the US House of Representatives in October 2020 was overwhelming. It was a hugely emotional moment for me and for Armenians all over the world. Most European countries—including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden—have recognized the Armenian genocide, but the UK has not,” Lord Darzi stated.