The House of Representatives voted to affirm its existing record of recognizing and condemning the 1915 Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire. The resolution passed overwhelmingly, but Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was one of only two Democrats not to vote "yea."
Enes Kanter, an NBA player for the Boston Celtics who is a citizen of Turkey, called Omar out on Twitter for her refusal to acknowledge the genocide that resulted in 1.5 million deaths.
"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!" Kanter wrote.
What an absolute disappointment and shame that the only democrat who did NOT support the Turkish bill aiming to sto… https://t.co/jZx8nQprD9— Enes Kanter (@Enes Kanter)1572396043.0
Kanter's tweet is partially incorrect, as Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas voted "present" alongside Omar and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). "Present" means not taking a side on the issue.
Omar said her refusal to vote in support of the resolution was due to a desire to have more human rights injustices condemned, such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade and Native American genocide. She also objected to the timing of the resolution, which is an apparent shot at Turkey for the nation's aggression against Kurdish forces in Syria.
"I believe in accountability for human rights violations — especially ethnic cleansing and genocide — is paramount," Omar said in a statement about her vote. "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."
Omar has also opposed sanctions against Turkey, calling them part of a "failed foreign policy playbook."
Kanter, who is wanted by the Turkish government for his opposition, is an outspoken opponent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Because he has a Turkish passport, he cannot travel outside the United States for fear that his passport will be revoked and he will be detained by international authorities.
Turkey has, for decades, opposed U.S. resolutions that would recognize and condemn the genocide, having paid millions to lobbyists on the issue. As a result, a vote on such a resolution has not been held since 1984.
The resolution affirms that "the United States has a proud history of recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide" and notes numerous other ways in which the U.S. has recognized the genocide, and cites Adolf Hitler's infamous reference to the Armenian genocide before the German invasion of Poland.
"Whereas, as displayed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Adolf Hitler, on ordering his military commanders to attack Poland without provocation in 1939, dismissed objections by saying '[w]ho, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?', setting the stage for the Holocaust."
Eleven Republicans voted "no" on the resolution.