WASHINGTON — President Obama on issued a statement which failed to characterize the systemic massacres and ethnic cleansing committed against Armenians 100 years ago as genocide, despite his personally stated view that Armenians suffered a genocide. Instead, he again used the Armenian language term Meds Yeghern for the Armenian Genocide. While the Assembly recognizes that President Obama this year has gone farther than any President since Ronald Reagan in 1981, who acknowledged the genocide of the Armenians, he again stopped short of fulfilling his promise and reaffirming the US record.
Obama used a dictionary definition of the Armenian Genocide noting “the Armenian people of the Ottoman empire were deported, massacred, and marched to their deaths…one and a half million Armenians perished.” He also referenced Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide and cited what happened to the Armenians and what happened to the Jews as prototypes of genocide, as well as the courageous leadership of U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau who alerted the world that a “campaign of race extermination” was under way and America’s response and humanitarian intervention. The absence of leadership on something as simple as condemning genocide is becoming too familiar to the American people.
Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America, issued the following statement: “President Obama’s exercise in linguistic gymnastics on the Armenian Genocide is unbecoming of the standard he himself set and that of a world leader today. One hundred years ago, a crime without a name took place. The definition of that shameful act can be found in the statement just released by the White House. When America stands apart from the European Parliament, Pope Francis, Germany, Austria, and the International Association of Genocide Scholars, we should pause and think about where we are as a nation. The world should know that while our President bowed to Turkish denial, Armenian Americans and other people of good conscience will never allow our history to be swept under the rug. In that spirit, the Assembly is recommitted to educating our neighbors, friends, and our communities through the launch of the Armenian Genocide Museum of America. This state-of-the-art online museum (www.armeniangenocidemuseum.org) is dedicated to educating the public about the continuing consequences of the Armenian Genocide and its denial. Genocide prevention is our obligation and we look forward to the day when the President joins us.”