WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America welcomed the European Parliament’s adoption of an Armenian Genocide Centennial Resolution, emphasizing how this official action puts President Obama on the stop vis-à-vis his much-anticipated April 24th statement regarding this crime.
“The European Parliament’s strong stand for a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide underscores the stark nature of the choice before President Obama,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “This April 24th, President Obama can take his moral cues from Pope Francis or Recep Erdogan. He can stand up for truth, along with the European Parliament, our top NATO allies, 43 U.S. states, a growing pro-justice Turkish civil society movement, and the moral conscience of the world community. Or he can opt – on the solemn Centennial of this crime – to continue enforcing a foreign government’s gag-rule on honest American discourse on the Armenian Genocide.”
“As Americans, we should never outsource our nation’s human rights policy or allow any foreign country – friend of foe – to compromise our nation’s stand against genocide,” added 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.”
President Obama has yet to honor his pledge. He is expected to make a statement on the topic on April 24, 2015, the international day of commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
The U.S. first recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1951 through a filing which was included in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Report titled: “Reservations to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” The specific reference to the Armenian Genocide appears on page 25 of the ICJ Report: “The Genocide Convention resulted from the inhuman and barbarous practices which prevailed in certain countries prior to and during World War II, when entire religious, racial and national minority groups were threatened with and subjected to deliberate extermination. The practice of genocide has occurred throughout human history. The Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacres of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide.”
President Ronald Reagan reaffirmed the Armenian Genocide in 1981. The U.S. House of Representatives adopted legislation on the Armenian Genocide in 1975, 1984 and 1996.
The European Parliament first recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1987 and has subsequently reaffirmed its pledge in 2000, 2002 and 2005.
The resolution on the Armenian Genocide Centennial was supported by all political groups in the European Parliament. It stated, in part, “whereas an increasing number of Member States and national parliaments recognize the Armenian Genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire; whereas one of the main motivations of the European unification movement is the will to prevent the recurrence of wars and crimes against humanity in Europe; …whereas the importance of keeping the memories of the past is paramount, since there can be no reconciliation without the truth and remembrance; Pays tribute, on the eve of the Centenary, to the memory of the one-and-a-half million innocent Armenian victims who perished in the Ottoman Empire; joins the commemoration of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide in a spirit of European solidarity and justice; calls on the Commission and Council to join the commemoration.”
The resolution goes on to note “the European Parliament calls on Turkey to come to terms with its past by recognizing the Armenian genocide and thus pave way for a genuine reconciliation.”
This latest European Parliament action comes just days after Pope Francis clearly and unequivocally reaffirmed the Armenian Genocide, stating, “In the past century our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies. The first, which is widely considered “the first genocide of the twentieth century,” struck your own Armenian people, the first Christian nation, as well as Catholic and Orthodox Syrians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Greeks. Bishops and priests, religious, women and men, the elderly and even defenseless children and the infirm were murdered.”