WASHINGTON—Earlier today, on the eve of Easter and the April 24th National Day of Prayer for the victims of the Armenian Genocide, President Barack Obama again betrayed his pledge to properly condemn and commemorate this crime against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Despite his repeated, detailed, and unambiguous pledges to recognize the Armenian Genocide, the president offered only euphemisms and evasive terminology to describe the murder of over 1.5 million men women and children—effectively keeping in place the gag rule imposed by the Turkish government on the open and honest discussion of this crime. In refusing, under foreign pressure from Turkey, to his honor his pledge, he again fell far short of his own view, as voiced during his campaign, that “America deserves a leader who who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide” and conveys the full factual, moral, legal, and contemporary political meaning of this crime against all humanity.
“President Obama’s disgraceful capitulation to Turkey’s threats, his complicity in Turkey’s denials, and his administration’s active opposition to Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide represent the very opposite of the principled and honest change he promised to bring to our country’s response to this crime,” said ANCA chairman Ken Hachikian.
“Instead of standing up for the truth and standing by the extensive U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide, President Obama is today, under threat from an increasingly unfriendly foreign power, standing in the way of the broad-based American civil society consensus for a truthful and just resolution of this crime,” added Hachikian.
“For a president who ran for office on the platform of ‘change’ and ‘honesty’, his record on this score—including, notably, his deeply offensive reference today to ‘contested history’ has been shameful. He has, in addition to betraying his own words and compromising America’s moral standing, gravely disappointed Armenians here in the United States, in Armenia, and around the world who had looked to him as an example of courage, conviction, and conscience,” continued Hachikian.
As a Senator and later as a presidential candidate, Obama pledged repeatedly to recognize the Armenian Genocide, stating, “America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that president.”
Since then the president has, while asserting that his personal views of the events of 1915 have not changed, refused to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, mobilized his administration to block Congressional recognition of this crime, and deployed his secretary of state and diplomatic corps to pressure Armenia into the Ankara-driven Turkey-Armenia protocols. The administration has also failed to honor the president’s numerous commitments on a range of other Armenian issues, including Nagorno-Karabagh, foreign aid, and bilateral trade.
Obama’s complete statement is provided below.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2011
Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day
We solemnly remember the horrific events that took place ninety-six years ago, resulting in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In 1915, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests.
Contested history destabilizes the present and stains the memory of those whose lives were taken, while reckoning with the past lays a sturdy foundation for a peaceful and prosperous shared future. History teaches us that our nations are stronger and our cause is more just when we appropriately recognize painful pasts and work to rebuild bridges of understanding toward a better tomorrow. The United States knows this lesson well from the dark chapters in our own history.
I support the courageous steps taken by individuals in Armenia and Turkey to foster a dialogue that acknowledges their common history. As we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and pay tribute to the memories of those who perished, we also recommit ourselves to ensuring that devastating events like these are never repeated. This is a contemporary cause that thousands of Armenian-Americans have made their own. The legacy of the Armenian people is one of resiliency, determination, and triumph over those who sought to destroy them. The United States has deeply benefited from the significant contributions to our nation by Armenian Americans, many of whom are descended from the survivors of the Meds Yeghern.
Americans of Armenian descent have strengthened our society and our communities with their rich culture and traditions. The spirit of the Armenian people in the face of this tragic history serves as an inspiration for all those who seek a more peaceful and just world. Our hearts and prayers are with Armenians everywhere as we recall the horrors of the Meds Yeghern, honor the memories of those who suffered, and pledge our friendship and deep respect for the people of Armenia.