President Barack Obama delivered remarks today, on April 23, at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, outlining the U.S. commitment to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. His speech, delivered on the eve of the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, was followed by a full-day of genocide prevention programs organized by the White House.
In both his address, and throughout the events, no mention was made of Armenia, Armenians, or the Armenian Genocide.
Here are the facts:
- The President, in his speech listed past genocides (Holocaust, Cambodia, Darfur, and Rwanda), but not the Armenian Genocide, despite his many campaign pledges to properly recognize this crime against humanity.
- Not one Armenian, it would seem, was invited by the White House to take part as a panelist, despite the Armenian American community’s decades of front-line advocacy on genocide prevention issues.
- Not one Armenian-related on-line question was fielded, despite a wide array that we submitted via Facebook and Twitter.
But President Obama still has the chance, on April 24th, to give real meaning to his words about genocide prevention by rejecting Ankara’s gag-rule and honoring his pledge to properly condemn and commemorate the Armenian Genocide.
In fact, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for the United States to speak truth to power on this vital human rights issue.
The U.S. House adopted Armenian Genocide legislation in 1975 and 1984 and included reference to the crime in House adopted amendments in 1996 and 2005. More recently, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed Armenian Genocide legislation in 2007 and 2010.
Despite all that, we face some serious challenges the Republic of Turkey continues its international campaign of Armenian Genocide denial, issuing economic and political threats against countries who properly characterize the crime. Those threats have largely been hollow, with economic trade data showing a marked increase in trade with Turkey after the genocide has been recognized.
The ANCA is working to end U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, and toward a principled American policy in support of a truthful and just resolution of the crime. But we need your help.