Washington, D.C., April 26, 2021
President Joe Biden became on Saturday the first U.S. head of state to recognize the mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1922 by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.
“Each year on this day, 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,” his official statement begins.
As expected, his recognition has greatly angered Turkish officials.
“We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice. We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism,” tweeted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
On the other hand, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan tweeted: “It is an important day for all Armenians. Following the resolutions adopted by US Congress in 2019, President Biden honored the memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide. The US has once again demonstrated its unwavering commitment to protecting human rights and universal values.”
Bryan Ardouny, head of the Armenian Assembly of America emphasized that “this is a critically important moment in the defense of human rights. It’s been a long journey. President Biden is standing firm against a century of denial, and is charting a course for human rights everywhere,” reports the Guardian.
Read President Biden’s full statement:
Each year on this day, 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. Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.
Of those who survived, most were forced to find new homes and new lives around the world, including in the United States. With strength and resilience, the Armenian people survived and rebuilt their community. Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores. 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.
Today, as we mourn what was lost, let us also turn our eyes to the future—toward the world that we wish to build for our children. A world unstained by the daily evils of bigotry and intolerance, where human rights are respected, and where all people are able to pursue their lives in dignity and security. Let us renew our shared resolve to prevent future atrocities from occurring anywhere in the world. And let us pursue healing and reconciliation for all the people of the world.
The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.