On April 24, President Barack Obama solemnly commemorated the victims of the Armenian Genocide and reiterated his call that ‘a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests,” reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
President Obama used an Armenian phrase Meds Yeghern for the Armenian Genocide and referenced his prior acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide, but fell short of fulfilling his 2008 presidential campaign pledge wherein he stated: “America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.”
The President’s statement invoked America’s proud record of providing humanitarian relief in helping to save the survivors of the first genocide of the 20th century: “And we recall with pride the humanitarian efforts undertaken by the American Committee for Syrian and Armenian Relief [ACSAR], funded by donations from Americans, which saved the lives of countless Armenians and others from vulnerable communities displaced in 1915.” ACSAR was the predecessor to the congressionally-chartered Near East Relief organization that raised and delivered over $100 million in humanitarian aid.
President Obama also stated that “peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past.” The Assembly urges Turkey to heed the President’s call and strongly urges Turkey to come to terms with its genocidal legacy.
“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with Armenians everywhere, as we recall the horror of the Meds Yeghern, honor the memory of those lost, and reaffirm our enduring commitment to the people of Armenia and to the principle that such atrocities must always be remembered if we are to prevent them from occurring ever again,” the President’s statement concluded.
“In 1981 President Ronald Reagan squarely acknowledged the Armenian Genocide stating that ‘Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it – and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples – the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.’ This accurately reflects America’s values and record of speaking out against genocide, and I welcome this approach,” stated Assembly Board of Trustees Chairman Hirair Hovnanian. “We appreciate the recent bipartisan majority vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in approving a resolution on the Armenian Genocide as well as our friends in the House of Representatives and the congressional delegation currently in Armenia for speaking clearly on this matter. This is America at its best,” Hovnanian continued.
“While we have made progress in confronting the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and reversing its impact, that progress is not enough. It was only last month that the specter of genocide raised its ugly head when the Turkish government allowed Al-Qaeda linked fighters to cross its border into Syria and attack Kessab, a predominantly Armenian populated region,” added Hovnanian.
“We cannot allow another genocide to take place. With the centennial approaching next year, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that the consequences of the Armenian Genocide are addressed,” Hovnanian concluded.