25 April 2021
The Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue welcome the decision of the United States of Ameica for initiating unprecedented step to support human rights on a global level through the recognition of the Armenian killings as genocide.
The White House declared on Saturday 24th of April, 2021 that the 1915 massacre of the Armenians under the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide. President Joe Biden became the first president of the United States of America to officially recognize the massacre as genocide and signals his commitment to human rights.
The 24th of April is widely commemorated as the Armenian Genocide Day, which observes the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I. 106 years earlier; the Ottoman Turks had accused the Christian Armenians for treachery after being defeated from Russian forces. The Ottomans began deporting the Armenians to deserts leading to the starvation and the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians. The exact number of the dead Armenians have been disputed, Turkey estimates that about 300,000 died while Armenians say that 1.5 million people died.
As Armenia commemorates the massacre that took place against its people in 1915, Biden released a statement saying “we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring”. Biden also noted in his statement that 1.5 million Armenians have been massacred by the hands of the ottomans. The released statement reveals the new government focus on international human rights as part of the new government agenda by aiming to raise awareness on tragic incidents in history and how victims must be honored. “We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated”, said Biden.
Previous U.S. administrations have acknowledged the atrocities against the Armenians; however, none of the presidents used the term genocide amid concerns over damaged relations with Turkey, a Nato ally. However, this was not the first time for Biden to use the word genocide for the killings of the Armenians.
Formally calling the killings of Armenians as genocide fulfills Biden’s previous official statements where he promised to recognize the killings and the deportations of hundreds of thousands of Armenians. Before his inauguration as a president, he has called the U.S. government to recognize the Armenian genocide in 2019 saying to a lobby group for ethnic Armenian living in the U.S. “I am proud today to support the resolutions now before the [US] House and Senate to officially recognise and establish an ongoing US commemoration of the Armenian genocide”. Adding “We must never forget or remain silent about this horrific and systematic campaign of extermination”.
Biden’s declaration has infuriated Turkey. The declaration by the U.S. government was rejected by the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying in a tweet “We will not take lessons from anyone on our history”. On Saturday, Turkey accused the United States of America of attempting to rewrite history and declared its rejection of recognizing the Armenian atrocities as genocide. The Turkish foreign Minister has also said “Words cannot change or rewrite history- We will not take lessons from anyone on our history”, moments after Biden announced his decision.
The Turkish foreign minister has further expressed his anger by rejecting and denouncing the term used by President Biden on the events of1915, accusing Armenian circles and anti-Turkey forces and groups for pressuring the U.S. government. This move by the U.S. government would further fray the already tensed relations between U.S. and Turkey.