Obama’s Statement on ‘Armenian Remembrance Day’

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON—The White House on Friday issued President Barack Obama’s eighth and final “Armenian Remembrance Day” statement. Obama continues to avoid referring to the destruction of the Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 as “genocide,” employing the Armenian term “Meds Yeghern” instead.

White House National Security Council officials informed the Armenian National Committee of America on Thursday afternoon that President Obama would refrain from properly commemorating the Armenian Genocide, as he had promised to do as a candidate, in his eighth and final “Armenian Remembrance Day” statement, set to be released in the next few days.

“It seems President Obama will end his tenure as he began it, caving in to pressure from Turkey and betraying his commitment to speak honestly about the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, who met with the officials along with Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian.

“President Obama’s unwillingness to reject Turkey’s gag-rule on the Armenian Genocide or otherwise confront the growing regional wave of anti-Armenian aggression – particularly at a time when both Ankara and Baku are placing targets on the backs of Armenians in Artsakh, Armenia, Turkey, the Middle East, and across our Diaspora – represents something far worse than simply a betrayal of his own promise. His reckless retreat from America’s anti-genocide commitments – under pressure from Turkey and Azerbaijan – in the face of their open incitement, outright aggression, and other classic genocide red flags – emboldens Erdogan and Aliyev to escalate their hostility, raising the very real risk of large-scale anti-Armenian atrocities. This, sadly, is President Obama’s legacy – silence on the Armenian Genocide, complicity in Turkey’s denials, and encouragement of Azerbaijani aggression,” continued Hamparian.

Prior to his election to the oval office, President Obama was clear and unequivocal in promising to properly characterize Ottoman Turkey’s murder of over 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children between 1915 and 1923 as genocide. In a January 19, 2008, statement he wrote: “The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

Below is Obama’s statement.

Today we solemnly reflect on the first mass atrocity of the 20th century—the Armenian Meds Yeghern—when one and a half million Armenian people were deported, massacred, and marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman empire.

As we honor the memory of those who suffered during the dark days beginning in 1915—and commit to learn from this tragedy so it may never be repeated—we also pay tribute to those who sought to come to their aid. One such individual was U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr., who voiced alarm both within the U.S. government and with Ottoman leaders in an attempt to halt the violence. Voices like Morgenthau’s continue to be essential to the mission of atrocity prevention, and his legacy shaped the later work of human rights champions such as Raphael Lemkin, who helped bring about the first United Nations human rights treaty.

This is also a moment to acknowledge the remarkable resiliency of the Armenian people and their tremendous contributions both to the international community as well as to American society. We recall the thousands of Armenian refugees who decades ago began new lives in the United States, forming a community that has enormously advanced the vitality of this nation and risen to prominence and distinction across a wide range of endeavors.   At a moment of regional turmoil to Armenia’s south, we also thank the people of Armenia for opening their arms to Syrian refugees, welcoming nearly 17,000 into their country.

As we look from the past to the future, we continue to underscore the importance of historical remembrance as a tool of prevention, as we call for a full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts, which would serve the interests of all concerned. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. I have also seen that peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past. We continue to welcome the expression of views by those who have sought to shed new light into the darkness of the past, from Turkish and Armenian historians to Pope Francis.‎

Today we stand with the Armenian people throughout the world in recalling the horror of the Meds Yeghern and reaffirm our ongoing commitment to a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous Armenia.

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8 Comments

  1. State of Emergency said:

    Well, both Bush 41 & 43 plus Clinton failed to acknowledge it. So what’s the problem here?

    • Regards said:

      Did those Presidents promise they would acknowledge it before they were elected and then break the promise for 8 straight years? Oh I get it. You’re an Obama apologist. Your argument is that of a 5 year old. ‘They didn’t do it, why should I?’

  2. Serop said:

    OH Bummer, what did he achieve in 8 years? ZERO
    Another puppet in the control of his Neo Con Zionist masters

  3. Lusik said:

    Very messy. He asks Armenians for forgiveness. Makes most of he can. I personally forgive him. Somebody must.

  4. Sylva~MD~poetry said:

    ‘‘Medz Yeghern’’*
    Shan’’t Be Uttered by Others
    Hence ‘‘Genocide’’ and Further Forth

    ““Every Language has a soul
    Every language has its own roar
    Exhales inside its cavernous’’ core
    Can you learn languages all!
    Each language vibrates a soul.””**
    Sylva-MD-Poetry

    President O.B, should not use a phrase he can’’t understand,
    He is a poet, judge, lawyer, he must be criticized.
    Medz Yeghern for us are two horrible words
    Not everyone can realize
    Something more than calamity . . .
    Massacres . . .
    Tragedy . . .
    Disaster . . . or even Genocide

    Which sounds still little!
    ‘‘A Killing Plague’’
    Epidemic Slaughter, Slaying …
    No one was able to stop ….

    Deep painfulness can create endless anguish phrases lexicons
    Not felt with everyone yet to be invented . . .
    Affected and still affecting
    Lives of our cohorts
    Like the end of the world
    Hence . . . Translation has no meaning at all
    Maybe for others,
    Thus never for us.
    The word ‘‘calamity’’ seems an ant Facing a starving tiger . . . lion
    A phrase can’’t heed torments.

    Can any human being translate
    What’’s in their deep, scorned-mind
    How much they love their mothers . . . yv
    Their lost motherland!

    So please Dr. President Calm your bemused sense
    Don’’t behave tenaciously
    Don’’t sell your philosophy
    On the graves of seared lives
    Don’’t please your and our enemies
    Don’’t pretend to be deaf to what’’ is really bleeding
    Under the rain . . . on the streets sunken in mud.

    To run your shiny-wheeled political cart . . . !
    Don’’t enunciate a phrase.
    You did with your tongue
    So . . . can never pronounce through your chest

    As you never walked with hungry bare injured soles,
    Did the criminal gendarmes’’ assaults,
    They enjoyed smashing humans’’ vital organs,
    Drive you to an unknown destiny
    Near red-rivers filled with bones,
    To see smashed innocent faces from your blood with
    Crushed lacrimating eyes outside prayers’’ skulls.

    Tell me, ““How can you feel the pain
    Of something you never have faced or felt!””
    How can you utter
    That horrible phrase!

    We are not here to insult someone
    Who made us promises and said that was
    ‘‘A Real Genocide’’;
    Don’’t act like a lover who changed his promise
    Because of another who betrays and fires fears.

    Your promise stagnated in our hearts.
    We heartlessly weep . . .

    We can only say,
    ““Also You . . .
    The Son of Darling . . . Sweet . . . Senseful Stanley-Ann,
    Betrayed Us . . . Why!””

    Each time we hear Medz Yeghern
    We can witness a pointed, poisoned Turkish scimitars
    Entering our already injured heart-valves.
    Tearing our creed.

    Regretful that we possess
    So naïve a soulful-faith!
    Not every race could sincerely grace . . . !

    (C) Sylva Portoian, MD
    From my poetry collection “My Son-My Sun: Chants Ann Obama’s Mother” (June 2011)
    I forwarded the book of condensed historical poems of 237 pages P. Obama …but I never heard from him …!!!

  5. Raffi said:

    Thank you President Obama by not helping Turkey for a soft landing on the Genocide issue, giving Armenians, Greecs, Assyrians, over 25 million people around the globe the opportunity to dip Turkey’s name in the mud over and over, and explain the entire world who the Turks are, what they stand for, and how cowardly they are in facing their past. Unfortunatly Turkey’s Erdogan is so shortsighted he can’t realize countries that are not recognising the genocide are not doing Turkey any favour, the contrary they are benefiting from their shortsightedness, they well know that Armenian genocide issue can’t disappear and will not go away, the longer it is dragged the more the damage to Turkey’s image in the world.

  6. Dr Hermon Mihranian said:

    Obama promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Now He change his mind in support the Turks. In my opinion Obama is lair

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