Obama missed opportunity to help heal open wounds of the past

Obama missed opportunity to help heal open wounds of the past

PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. President Barack Obama commemorated the victims of the Armenian Genocide reiterating his position that “his views on the Armenian Genocide have not changed. He recalled the "horrors of the Meds Yeghern."

The Armenian Assembly of America's April 18 letter to the President urged him to unequivocally affirm the Genocide, and recalled his prior and direct statements affirming the Armenian Genocide stating that "the cause of genocide affirmation and prevention is a fundamental issue for all of humanity," the Assembly reminds.

In this year’s statement, President Obama repeatedly used Meds Yeghern, stating: "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."

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in its December 10, 2010 decision made reference to President Obama's previous use of the word Meds Yeghern and indicated that "'Meds Yeghern is the [Armenian] term for Armenian Genocide,'" and while the Assembly appreciates President Obama's expression of solidarity, we expect the President to honor his prior commitments and statements by employing the English term. In doing so, President Obama would join former President Ronald Reagan, who in 1981, clearly reaffirmed the U.S. position when in his April 22 Proclamation, he used the English term--Armenian Genocide. Also, in 1993, the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that U.S. policy recognizes the Armenian Genocide.

"Words do matter, and today's statement on the eve of Easter and the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide was a missed opportunity to help heal the open wounds of the past," stated Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "Genocide and its denial are pernicious, and the U.S. needs to squarely address the consequence of genocide denial through unequivocal affirmation of this historical truth," Ardouny 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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