April 24 final opportunity for Obama to address Armenian Genocide: Rep.

April 24 final opportunity for Obama to address Armenian Genocide: Rep.

PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. Representative Adam Schiff has delivered an open letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to his final opportunity to call the Armenian Genocide what it was – Genocide.

“On April 24, the world will mark 101 years since the systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. The facts of the slaughter are beyond dispute. And I know you are well-acquainted with these horrors visited upon the Armenian people, having spoken eloquently about them as Senator,” Schiff said in his letter. “Mr. President, for the survivors and for their descendants, the word “genocide” is sacred because it means the world has not and will not forget. To deny Genocide on the other hand, is profane.

This April 24 will be your final opportunity to use the presidency to speak plainly about the Genocide. In past years as President, you have described the campaign of murder and displacement against the Armenian people as a “mass atrocity,” which it surely was. But, of course, it was also much more, and you have avoided using the word genocide even though it has been universally applied by scholars and historians of the period. In fact, as you know better than most, the Ottoman Empire’s campaign to annihilate the Armenian people was a prime example of what Rafael Lemkin was trying to describe when he coined the very term ‘genocide.’”

According to Schiff, regardless of what Obama says on April 24, there can be little doubt that Turkey will do exactly as it has always done in its relations with the United States – and that is whatever Turkey believes to be in its self-interest.

Many of our European allies and world leaders, including Pope Francis, have recognized the Genocide, Schiff says, yet they have continued to work closely with Turkey, because that has been in Turkey’s interest. The same will be true after U.S. recognition of the Genocide, the congressman adds.

“I dearly hope, as do millions of Armenians descended from Genocide survivors around the world, that you take this final opportunity to call the Armenian Genocide what it was – Genocide. To say that the Ottoman Empire committed this grotesque crime against the Armenians, but that their campaign of extermination failed. And that, above all, we will never forget and we will never again be intimidated into silence. Let this be part of your legacy, and you will see future Administrations follow your example,” Schiff concluded.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres and deportations, involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, Italy, 45 U.S. states, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Argentina, Belgium, Austria, Wales, Switzerland, Canada, Poland, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, the Vatican, Luxembourg, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Sweden, Venezuela, Slovakia, Syria, Vatican, as well as the European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

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