WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump’s April 24th statement on the 104th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is a missed opportunity to end genocide denial, reported the Armenian Assembly of America.
“The failure to squarely acknowledge the Armenian Genocide reflects a pattern not only in this year’s presidential statement, but past administrations as well that fosters an atmosphere for denial and empowers authoritarian regimes to persecute Christians and other minorities,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “A genocide denied is an injustice to all who are being persecuted,” he added.
The plight of the Armenian people captured the attention of the American public with President Woodrow Wilson stating that “the sympathy for Armenia among our people has sprung from untainted consciences, pure Christian faith, and an earnest desire to see Christian people everywhere succored in their time of suffering, and lifted from their abject subjection and distress and enabled to stand upon their feet and take their place among the free nations of the world.”
President Theodore Roosevelt stated that the atrocities committed by the “Turks on the Armenians” was “so hideous that it is difficult to name them…people whose little children are murdered and their women raped.” In a letter to Cleveland Dodge, who led the congressionally chartered Near East Relief organization headquartered in New York City, President Roosevelt stated further that it “was the greatest crime of the war, and failure to act against Turkey is to condone it…” Through the efforts of the Near East Relief, over $2.5 billion (in 2019 dollars) was raised at the time to help the survivors of the first genocide of the twentieth century.
While this year’s statement reflected a dictionary definition of genocide and also used an Armenian expression, Medz Yeghern, it fell short of President Ronald Reagan’s declarative statement in 1981: “Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it – and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples – the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.”
Following is the official text of the White House release:
Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day 2019
April 24, 2019
Today, we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor the memory of those who suffered in one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. On this day of remembrance, we again join the Armenian community in America and around the world in mourning the many lives lost.
On this day, we also honor and recognize the work of those who tried to end the violence, as well as those who sought to ensure atrocities like this would not be repeated, like human rights activist and lawyer Raphael Lemkin. We recall the contributions of generous Americans who helped save lives and rebuild Armenian communities. As we honor the memory of those who suffered, we also draw inspiration from the courage and resiliency of the Armenian people who, in the face of tremendous adversity, built vibrant communities around the world, including in the United States.
We pledge to learn from past tragedies so as to not to repeat them. We welcome the efforts of Armenians and Turks to acknowledge and reckon with their painful history. And we stand with the Armenian people in recalling the lives lost during the Meds Yeghern and reaffirm our commitment to a more peaceful world.