As those around the world prepare to honor the 96th anniversary of the Armenian genocide on Sunday, local politicians are remembering the 21st century’s first genocide – even as the United States has yet to officially recognize the Ottoman Turkish government’s actions as genocide.
“This Sunday, April 24th, marks the 96th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the first genocide of the 21st century,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R – Atwater). “As we begin our weekends, I ask that we all remember and pay respect to the memory of the 1.5 million men, women and children whose lives were taken 96 years ago. We must acknowledge the Armenian genocide so that we cannot only remember those who lost their lives, but so we can work together to ensure that such a horrible tragedy will never happen again.”
Denham, a member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, will speak at the Armenian Genocide Commemoration at Fresno City Hall today.
State legislators held their annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration Ceremony at the State Capitol on April 14. An invocation was offered by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, and Armenian-American community leaders met with legislators to discuss issues of concern, including State Senator Tom Berryhill (R – Modesto).
At that time, legislators unanimously passed a joint resolution defining the week of April 18 through April 24 as “California Week of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923,” and urging Congress and President Barack Obama to recognize the murder of 1.5 million Armenians, and the forced departure of 500,000 more Armenians.
The Turkish government does not believe the event can be termed “genocide,” and questions the numbers and conclusions of those who have termed the event genocide. Turkish citizens, including high-profile members of the intellegencia, have been jailed in recent years for “insulting Turkishness” by mentioning the Armenian Genocide.
On April 14, Senator Barbara Boxer (D – CA) addressed the U.S. Senate with a statement again urging President Obama to officially recognize the genocide as genocide, rather than describe it with terms such as “annihilation,” “massacre,” and “murder.”
“This is not only an affront to the memory of the victims and to their descendants, but it does a disservice to the United States as it seeks to stand up to those who are perpetrating violence today,” Boxer said.
“In a recent speech President Obama eloquently said: ‘Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.’ The United States is not a nation that turns a blind eye to atrocities, and that is why it is so important that we finally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide for what it was—genocide.”
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