WASHINGTON — The Armenian Assembly of America calls upon His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and current Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, to affirm the Armenian Genocide following the deletion of his original statement on Twitter about his visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial (Tsitsernakaberd) and Museum-Institute in Yerevan on July 27, 2022.
In response, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) stated that “The UN should not be complicit in Turkey’s rejection of history. UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid was wrong for deleting his tweet and capitulating to pressure from Turkey.”
To date, 31 countries and dozens of international organizations recognize the genocide of the Armenian people committed by the Ottoman Turkish Empire from 1915-1923, which resulted in the loss of 1.5 million Armenians and the dispossession of a nation from its three millennia-old Western Armenian homeland. The UNGA codified the crime of genocide by adopting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”) in December 1948, heeding many of distinguished international human rights lawyer Raphael Lemkin’s ideas, who coined the term genocide in 1944 and referenced the 1915 Armenian Genocide as a seminal example of the act of genocide.
The UNGA President’s actions are demonstrative of genocide denial, which is the worst form of hate speech. To honor the 50th anniversary of the Genocide Convention in 1998, over 150 distinguished scholars and writers issued a statement to commemorate the Armenian Genocide and condemn the Turkish government’s denial of this crime against humanity. In the statement, the scholars emphasized that the “denial of genocide strives to reshape history in order to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators. Denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide. It is what Elie Wiesel has called a ‘double killing.’ Denial murders the dignity of the survivors and seeks to destroy remembrance of the crime.”
UNGA President Shahid’s action undermines the international community’s trust in and responsibilities towards upholding the letter and spirit of the UN Genocide Convention. The Armenian Assembly of America urges UNGA President Shahid to issue a public explanation and retraction with respect to his deleted tweet, and affirm his commitment to recognize the Armenian Genocide and condemn its denial.