BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
President Joe Biden issued a written statement on April 24, officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide for the second year in a row.
Here is an excerpt from President Biden’s acknowledgment: “On April 24, 1915, Ottoman authorities arrested Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thus began the Armenian genocide — one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Today, we remember the one and a half million Armenians who were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination, and mourn the tragic loss of so many lives…. Today, 107 years later, the American people continue to honor all Armenians who perished in the genocide.”
In his statement, President Biden used the word ‘Genocide’ four times and once ‘Meds Yeghern,’ an Armenian term used to describe the mass killings, before Raphael Lemkin coined the term Genocide in the 1940’s. President Biden also identified ‘Ottoman authorities’ as perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide.
While Armenians appreciate the sympathetic words of President Biden, he must be reminded that a similar danger of extinction is looming today over Artsakh. He should not have approved military aid to Azerbaijan, a country that is intent on wiping out both Artsakh and Armenia.
President Biden should turn his moral acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide to actionable foreign policy by pressuring Turkey to recognize its crime, compensate for the mass murders committed by its predecessor regime, and return the occupied Western Armenian lands. Recognition without restitution is meaningless!
Just as Western countries rose to the defense of Ukraine with massive military and humanitarian assistance, so should they protect Artsakh. During the 2020 war, Artsakh was subjected to a brutal attack by Azerbaijan, Turkey, and imported Jihadist terrorists, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. But the world remained silent. There should be no favoritism for the suffering of one people over another. All human beings deserve the same protection.
In addition to President Biden’s declaration on the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, statements were issued by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Vice President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez, President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, President of Greece Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and several other leaders. However, the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel are some of the countries that are still afraid of Turkey to acknowledge the truth about the mass murders of 1.5 million Armenians.
Turkey, the perpetrator of the genocide, and its vassal state, Azerbaijan, continue to deny the Armenian Genocide. Armenians around the world and all people of goodwill continue to hold protests, exposing their lies and remind the world of the mass murders.
This year, on April 23, when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was in Montevideo, Uruguay, a group of Armenians protested his visit. Cavusoglu mocked the gathered Armenians by flashing the threatening hand gesture of the Turkish terrorist group, Gray Wolves. Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981, was a member of the Gray Wolves. Imagine if a German Foreign Minister showed the Nazi insignia to Jewish Holocaust survivors. The President of Uruguay condemned the Turkish Foreign Minister’s undiplomatic gesture and the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish Ambassador to explain the Turkish Foreign Minister’s inappropriate behavior.
Nevertheless, Turkish President Rejep Tayyip Erdogan is beginning to realize the futility of his denials of the Armenian Genocide. After years of threatening the United States if it recognized the Armenian Genocide, Erdogan turned into a mouse after President Biden recognized it last year. Erdogan had arrogantly announced that he will complain to the U.S. President about his recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
However, when the two met last June, he did not dare to say a word to Biden about it. Afterwards when the Turkish press asked Erdogan if he complained to Biden about the Genocide, he absurdly said, “No, Biden did not bring it up.” Erdogan was thoroughly humiliated.
In a message to Armenians who had gathered at the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul to commemorate the Armenian Genocide on April 24, Erdogan wrote to Armenian Patriarch Sahak Mashalian: “I believe that we should build the future together, inspired by our deep-rooted unity of up to a thousand years, instead of magnifying the suffering.” Rather than acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, Erdogan claimed that Ottoman citizens (both Armenians and Turks) died as a result of World War I, without distinguishing between the victims of genocide and war.
Furthermore, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that it rejected the statements made on April 24 by various countries: “This includes today’s unfortunate statement by U.S. President Biden, repeating the mistake he made in 2021. We reject such statements and decisions that distort historical facts with political motives, and condemn those who insist on this mistake.” This is coming from the Turkish Foreign Minister who made a terroristic hand gesture in Uruguay.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Istanbul banned the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, which had been held annually since 2010, except for the last two years due to covid.
Finally, Garo Paylan, the Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament, submitted a bold resolution to the Parliament last week demanding that it recognize the Armenian Genocide, identify those responsible, remove their names from public places, and grant Turkish citizenship to the victims and their families.
Paylan came under vicious attacks from Turkish officials. The Speaker of Parliament rejected his motion. The spokesman of AKP, the ruling party, demanded an apology from Paylan and threatened to sue him. Furthermore, President Erdogan condemned Paylan and urged the Parliament “to deal with him.”
If Turkish leaders don’t mind to be humiliated and exposed to the world for denying that their country committed genocide, Armenians will continue to expose them as supporters of barbaric actions. The sooner they come to their senses, acknowledge the Genocide and make amends, the sooner they will stop being disgraced.