President Barack Obama declined to call the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide for the eighth consecutive year, outraging many in the Armenian community in Southern California as they prepare for Armenian Remembrance Day.
Obama issued a statement about Armenian Remembrance Day, acknowledging in part, “one and a half million Armenian people were deported, massacred, and marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman empire.”
The statement was 403 words long, but was missing one key word: Genocide.
“We’re very disappointed, unfortunately not surprised,” said Nora Hovsepian with the Armenian National Committee of America.
The Armenian National Committee of America has fought for years to get the United States to label Turkey’s mass killings of Armenians in 1915 as a genocide.
Turkey claims there was never a state-organized genocide and that the number of Armenian victims has been inflated.
The U.S. has never applied the label of genocide mainly because Turkey is considered an ally in the war against terror and allows the U.S. to maintain military bases there.
But Hovsepian said that relationship is no longer vital.
“Turkey is acting like anything but an ally. It supports and facilitates ISIS, which is exactly who we are fighting against,” Hovsepian said.
The Los Angeles City Council got involved after Councilman Paul Krekorian introduced a motion on Friday directing all city offices to cancel subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal and other publications that ran a full-page advertisement denying the massacre was a genocide.
“If there’s no recognition of the genocide as a genocide, it simply opens the door to future atrocities, future crimes against humanity,” Krekorian said.
So why does the U.S. avoid using the term genocide? Many say it’s a legal term that would most certainly spark a long and costly series of problems for Turkey.
“Once you name someone a genocide perpetrator, then you have to go to the next step and that would be accountability, responsibility, reparations, etc.,” Hovsepian said.
In the meantime, Armenians will do what they have done for decades: hit the streets on April 24 and put pressure on the White House with mass demonstrations.