MONTEBELLO – Having the U.S. government use the term “genocide” to describe the World War I-era killing of Armenians would be more than a symbolic gesture for Montebello resident Jack Hadjinian. It would be a long-awaited victory he’s fought to win for most of his adult life. As a board member of the San Gabriel Valley chapter of the Armenian National Committee, Hadjinian organized other members, friends and “anyone with a consciousness who would listen” to write letters to their congressional representatives and urge them to support a resolution introduced last week by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena. The resolution calls on the U.S. government to officially recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide committed by Turkey’s Ottoman government between 1915 and 1919. This is not the first attempt by members of Congress to push for an official genocide recognition. But this is the first time in years the issue has had a serious chance of passing in the House of Representatives, Hadjinian said. “For years there was a huge contingency of legislators who either didn’t want to take a stand on the issue or had a contrary belief,” he said. “But now with the Democrats, there’s more support.” Serge Samoniantz, chairman of the San Gabriel Valley ANC, said the approval of Schiff’s resolution could prompt the media to use the term “without qualifications” such as the word “alleged.” “It’s really only a non-binding resolution, a statement from the House basically,” said Samoniantz, a Whittier resident. “But with Nancy Pelosi … she’s been a long-time supporter of it. It’s an important statement that has a good chance of passing.” Apart from Pelosi’s leadership as speaker of the House, other factors have helped build support for the legislation this time that wasn’t there in the past, Samoniantz said. The Jan. 19 murder in Istanbul of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink sparked large demonstrations in support of free speech, Samoniantz said. Dink had been prosecuted for “insulting Turkishness” for calling the Armenian slayings a genocide. His prosecution angered some American lawmakers. The demonstrations also “showed a side of Turkey not seen before,” Samoniantz said. “Some of the liberal-thinking people identify with the thoughts of \, an element of the Turkish population that thinks differently.” The position of the Turkish government is that, although many people died at that time, it was a result of the “civil strife and displacement” occurring on both sides – not a deliberate extermination, according to officials from the Consulate General of the Republic of Turkey in Los Angeles. Bush administration officials this week assured Turkish diplomats that Bush would not support the resolution. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!