Canadian Government Clarifies Genocide Position

OTTAWA–The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs–in the House of Commons–affirmed Thursday the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide of 1915–even though the use of the term Genocide was omitted from this affirmation.

During Question Period–Liberal Member of Parliament Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre) asked–"Mr. Speaker–in February–in answer to my question in the House on the Armenian issue–the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated that he had held a consultation process which involved members of parliament–concerned Canadian communities–historians and others. Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs please inform the House of any conclusions that have been reached as a result of this consultation?"

In the absence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (who was attending the G-8 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Germany) Julian Reed–Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs–responded: "Mr. Speaker–I thank the hon. member and all others who worked on this process. On behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs I wish to inform the House that together with all Canadians we remember the calamity afflicted on the Armenian people in 1915. This tragedy was committed with the intent to destroy a national group in which hundreds of thousands of Armenia’s were subject to atrocities which included massive deportations and massacres. May the memory of this period contribute to healing wounds as well as to the reconciliation of present day nations and communities and remind us all of our collective duty to work together toward world peace."

"This is the first time that a Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs has addressed this issue objectively and publicly described the events with historical accuracy–although not comprehensively" said Dr. Girair Basmadjian–President of the Armenian National Committee of Canada–adding that "this statement is another step in the efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide; in 1996–the House of Commons had adopted a resolution ‘on the occasion of the 81st anniversary of the Armenian tragedy which claimed some 1.5 million lives that took place on April 24–1915.’ However–we are compelled to express our disappointment for the reluctance to use the term Genocide–even though the statement made on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs is the description of the act of Genocide. It is our belief that this omission is the result of undue political appeasement and economic concerns–which–in our opinion–are unbecoming of a country renowned for its record in upholding the rule of law in international affairs," he continued.

"We would like to thank all individuals whose resolve and perseverance culminated in this otherwise important political pronouncement," added Dr. Basmadjian.

"The Armenian community of Canada–together with its friends–will continue the efforts to convince the Canadian government to be faithful to its own description of the events and not to shy away from using the term Genocide. Such a courageous stance would be truthful to the Canadian position and sentimen’s as expressed during and immediately following the Armenian Genocide; moreover–it would be in concordance with sentimen’s and positions on this matter expressed in the last twenty years by provincial legislatures–Members of Parliament–and Senators of different political stripes as well as genocide scholars and historians; and it would be in accordance with the Canadian tradition of promoting human rights–peace and the rule of law in international affairs," concluded Dr. Basmadjian.

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