By David Phillips
One and a half million Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1923 during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. The overwhelming majority of historians refer to their deportation and murder as the “Armenian Genocide” but Turkey refuses to recognize the events as Genocide.
In the immediate aftermath, Ottoman courts tried and convicted some of the perpetrators. Today, however, Turkey adamantly denies the Genocide and actively campaigns against its recognition. US President Joe Biden’s recognition the Genocide on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, April 24, would help Turkey face this tragic chapter in history. It would also send a signal of solidarity with progressive members of Turkish civil society who demand transparency and accountability.
President Biden repeatedly called for the US to recognize the Armenian Genocide in his decades as a US Senator. As a candidate, he reaffirmed his commitment to Genocide recognition in a letter to the Armenian Assembly of America on September 16, 2019:
“The United States must never forget or remain silent about the systematic and horrific campaign of extermination that resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children, and the mass deportation of 2 million Armenians from their homes. If we do not fully acknowledge, commemorate and teach our children about genocide, the words “never again” lose their meaning.”
Biden’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide would underscore recent Congressional resolutions in both houses. Members of the House of Representatives submitted Resolution 296, “affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide”, states that it is US policy to “1) commemorate the Armenian Genocide, the killing of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923; 2) reject efforts to deny the Armenian Genocide; and 3) encourage education and public understanding about the Armenian Genocide.” The resolution was adopted overwhelmingly by a vote of 405 to 11 on October 29, 2019.