Two former aides of President Barack Obama say his administration failed by not officially declaring that the mass slaughter of Armenians roughly a century ago constituted genocide. Samantha Power, Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, said, “I’m sorry that we disappointed so many Armenian Americans.” Turkish leaders have warned for years that official U.S. recognition of an Armenian genocide would be harmful to the US’ relationship with Turkey.
Ex-Ambassador Samantha Power joins the Aurora Prize Selection Committee
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative announces Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power as the newest member of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity Selection Committee. In an issued statement on Friday, the Prize website informs
Ambassador Power will join the other esteemed humanitarians, human rights activists and former heads of state as a part of the Selection Committee, to determine future recipients for the annual $1.1 million Aurora Prize.
“We are very excited to welcome Ambassador Power to the Aurora Prize Selection Committee. With her notable experience on the world stage, she has made great strides in aiding those in the developing world and standing up for the most vulnerable members of our global community,” said Noubar Afeyan, co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. “With her unparalleled expertise in human rights around the world, we are honored that she will review Aurora Prize nominations and help shape the future of the Aurora Prize.”
It is noted that Ambassador Samantha Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a member of President Obama’s cabinet, and became known as one of the country’s foremost thinkers on foreign policy. Prior to her work at the United Nations, she served on the U.S. National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, where she focused on atrocity prevention, United Nations reform, LGBT and women’s rights and the promotion of religious freedom, among other issues. She also authored the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.” Given her influential work in human rights and democracy, she has been recognized several times over, including as one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” and Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers.”
“The Aurora Prize and its laureates recognize that, while it is essential to remember past atrocities, we each have the power to assist those who are saving lives in the present,” said Ambassador Power. “I take great pride in being part of the Prize’s Selection Committee, which seeks to honor those who make great sacrifices to help others, and who find a way to mobilize human kindness and persevere amid steep odds.”
She will join current Aurora Prize Selection Committee members Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; human rights activist Hina Jilani; Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London Lord Ara Darzi; President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group and former foreign minister of Australia Gareth Evans; Medecins sans Frontieres Founder Bernard Kouchner; President of Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian; and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney.
The Aurora Prize, now in its third year, was founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors. The Selection Committee will convene in Berlin, Germany on December 4, 2017 to review nominations from this year’s process, which gathered 750 submissions from 115 countries. Concurrent to their meeting in Berlin, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative will host its first Aurora Dialogues outside of Armenia, titled “Millions on The Move: Need for Development and Integration.” The Aurora Dialogues Berlin is a joint effort of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, Global Perspectives Initiative, Robert Bosch Stiftung and Stiftung Mercator, and will be held on December 4-5, 2017. Speakers will address the state of the global migration crisis and look at the role of different actors in advancing positive change.
The 2018 Aurora Prize finalists will be announced on April 24, 2018, the day of commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. The Aurora Prize, established on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, provides the laureate with a $100,000 grant and the opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by nominating organizations to receive a $1,000,000 award. The third annual Prize will be announced on June 10, 2018, at a ceremony in Armenia.
Samantha Power joins #KeepThePromise campaign
Former US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power joined #KeepThePromise campaign urging to speak against genocide denial.
“My name is Samantha Power and I vow to #KeepThePromise to be an upstander for human rights,” she said in a video message.
The Promise is a movie about the Armenian Genocide that will hit the U.S. theaters on April 21. Many celebrities and human rights defenders, including Cher, Elton John, Ryan Gosling, George & Amal Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Barbra Streisand, have joined the #KeepThePromise campaign.
All proceeds from the movie will be donated to non-profit organizations.
AP: Has Obama administration quietly recognized Armenian Genocide?
The Associated Press on Tuesday, November 6 published an article suggesting the Obama administration has quietly recognized the Armenian Genocide.
The term has long been taboo for U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama, who have instead talked of mass atrocity and historical tragedy. But Obama’s UN ambassador last week went further than her boss by describing the event as genocide.
In a speech hailing the work of Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel, Samantha Power lamented the injustices that continue to this day. Among these, she listed: “Genocide denial against the Armenians.” Power didn’t elaborate.
Those five words risk infuriating Turkey, which has fiercely opposed any genocide reference and whose strategic role as a key American partner and NATO ally in an unstable part of the world has led U.S. officials to exercise extreme caution when referencing the century-old massacre. They’re also surprising given Power’s status as the nation’s second highest-ranked diplomat and what sounded like her implicit criticism of Obama.
When he first ran for president, Obama promised he would recognize the killings as genocide if elected. But he has repeatedly stopped short of doing so. Marking Armenian Remembrance Day in April, Obama called the killings the first mass atrocity of the 20th century and a tragedy that must not be repeated.
Before entering government, Power was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote extensively about America’s responses to genocide. Officials say she has lobbied hard behind the scenes for Obama to formally recognize the Armenian killings as genocide.
Kurtis Cooper, Power’s spokesman, said the Genocide reference came in the context of honoring Wiesel’s life and were meant to “convince others to stand up, rather than stand by, in the face of systemic injustice, mass atrocities and genocide like the one he was forced to endure.” He said they don’t reflect a change in administration policy.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said there has been no change in U.S. policy.
“The president and other senior administration officials have repeatedly mourned and acknowledged as historical fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, and stated that a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests,” Toner said.
Obama’s refusal to describe the killings as genocide has angered advocates and lawmakers who have accused the president of outsourcing America’s moral voice to Turkey.
Historians widely view the killings as genocide. But Turkey says commonly cited death tolls are inflated. In weighing how the U.S. refers to the tragedy, officials in Democratic and Republican administrations have long sought a middle ground that minimizes offense to Turkey, which is helping the United States fight the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
President Ronald Reagan in 1981 did refer to the “Genocide of the Armenians.” But presidents since have avoided such language.
President Jimmy Carter came close to saying genocide in 1978 by describing a “concerted effort made to eliminate all the Armenian people” and calling it “probably one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group.” He noted that unlike after the Holocaust, no justice occurred akin to the Nuremberg trials of top Nazi officials.
As a campaign surrogate eight years ago, Power released a video imploring Armenian-Americans to vote for Obama, saying he would follow through on his promise to talk frankly about what happened.
The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.
The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.
Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.
The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.
Samantha Power to visits Turkey for Syria talks
ANKARA The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and President Barack Obama’s key foreign policy aide, Samantha Power, will visit Turkey this week to discuss the Syrian crisis and other regional issues, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials have told the Hürriyet Daily News. As part of her regional trip, Ambassador Power will hold talks in Istanbul, meeting Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Önhon on June 12, before visiting a refugee camp for Syrians in the southern province of Gaziantep. The situation in Syria will be high up the agenda during talks in the Foreign Ministry, along with a number of other regional issues, a Turkish official said. Power served as Special Assistant to Obama and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Staff at the White House, prior to serving as U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N.
Samantha Power to visits Turkey for Syria talks
The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and President Barack Obama’s key foreign policy aide, Samantha Power, will visit Turkey this week to discuss the Syrian crisis and other regional issues, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials have told the Hürriyet Daily News.
As part of her regional trip, Ambassador Power will hold talks in Istanbul, meeting Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Önhon on June 12, before visiting a refugee camp for Syrians in the southern province of Gaziantep. The situation in Syria will be high up the agenda during talks in the Foreign Ministry, along with a number of other regional issues, a Turkish official said.
Power served as Special Assistant to Obama and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Staff at the White House, prior to serving as U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N.
Schiff Questions Samantha Power on UN Action on Kessab
WASHINGTON—Most United Nations Security Council members have “raised the issue” of the recent takeover of the historically Armenian town of Kessab, Syria, and urged the world body “to do more to meet the needs of these people,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and members of a key House Appropriations panel Wednesday during a Congressional hearing, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“We join with Armenians across California and around America in thanking Congressman Schiff for raising the plight of the Armenians driven out of Kessab with Ambassador Power,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We appreciate Ambassador Power’s statement that Kessab is ‘an issue of huge concern,’ and value her explanation to Congress about the UN Security Council’s efforts to help the Armenian civilians driven from their homes by extremist militants. We will continue to work, in partnership with our friends in Congress, to encourage our government to speak directly to the cause of Kessab’s suffering – namely the clear complicity of Turkey in the al-Qaeda linked attack that drove more than 2,000 Armenians from their ancestral homes.”
The ANCA has called on the Senate and House Intelligence committees to investigate Turkey’s role in the recent attacks against the Kessab civilian population. A new action alert has been posted and has received broad support following social media posts by citizens and celebrities alike.
During a question and answer session at the House Appropriations Committee State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee hearing with Ambassador Power earlier today, Rep. Schiff asked “About a week ago, the town of Kessab, which is predominantly Armenian Christian, was attacked by Al-Qaeda-linked fighters who had crossed over from Turkey and the town was emptied in a bloody assault. Many of the residents are descendants of the Armenian Genocide and there is particular poignancy in them being targeted in this manner.” Rep. Schiff went on to ask what efforts the United Nations and its agencies are making to address the crisis.
Ambassador Power, noting that the recent attacks on Kessab are a “huge concern,” went on to note that: “Most of the [UN Security] Council members raised the issue of Kessab, calling on the UN to do more, to try to meet the needs of these people. […] I would note that, unfortunately, the extremist group that appears to have taken hold of that town is not one that the United States and the United Nations overall has a great deal of leverage over. And so, our emphasis now, is on supporting the moderate opposition in Syria that is taking on those extremist groups and making sure that the UN has the funding it needs, and the resources of all kinds that it needs to accommodate […] in this case, the Syrian Armenian community, as you said, an internally displaced population flow. So, it’s resources, it’s strengthening the moderate opposition which is taking on ISIL – the very group that appears to have taken over that town – making sure that none of the neighbors are giving support to terrorist groups or extremist groups which would aid their efforts in seizures like that, and going on a funding drive internationally because only a very small percentage of the UN funding appeal for Syria generally has been filled at this point.”
Located in the northwestern corner of Syria, near the border with Turkey, Kessab had, until very recently, evaded major battles in the Syrian conflict. The local Armenian population had increased in recently years with the city serving as safe-haven for those fleeing from the war-torn cities of Yacubiye, Rakka and Aleppo. On the morning of March 21st, extremist foreign fighters launched a vicious attack, from Turkey, on Kessab civilians, forcing over 2000 to flee to neighboring Latakia and Bassit. An international social media campaign – #SaveKessab – has garnered broad media attention to the tragedy with over 100,000 tweeting about the crisis and tens of thousands calling for immediate U.S. and U.N. action.
In a statement issued last week, the U.S. State Department noted that they are “deeply troubled by recent fighting and violence that is endangering the Armenian community in Kasab, Syria and has forced many to flee. There are far too many innocent civilians suffering as a result of the war. All civilians, as well as their places of worship, must be protected.” The statement went on to note that “We have long had concerns about the threat posed by violent extremists and this latest threat to the Armenian community in Syria only underscores this further.”
Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) have condemned the attacks and urged the State Department to investigate Turkey’s involvement. In a joint letter to President Obama issued earlier today, Congressional Armenian Caucus co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.227) lead authors David Valadao (R-CA) and Adam Schiff, commented on the Kessab attacks, noting ” When coupled with a mass exodus of the Armenian community, these events are far too reminiscent of the early days of the Armenian Genocide, which took place nearly 100 years ago in Ottoman Turkey under the cover of World War I.” The letter goes on to note,” With the Christian Armenian community being uprooted from its homeland, yet again, we strongly urge you to take all necessary measures without delay to safeguard the Christian Armenian community of Kessab. We also believe that now is the time to redouble America’s efforts to ensure that all minority communities at risk in the Middle East are afforded greater protection.”
Author of book on Genocide confirmed as U.S. envoy to UN, Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and foreign policy advisor to President Obama, won confirmation Thursday as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations with a vote that completes the administration’s foreign policy team for the second term, Los Angeles Times reports.
The outspoken former journalist and human rights advocate was confirmed by a vote of 87 to 10, far more support than critics had predicted after her high-profile career as an author and activist.
“As a longtime champion of human rights and dignity, she will be a fierce advocate for universal rights, fundamental freedoms and U.S. national interests,” Obama said in a statement. “I’m grateful that Samantha will continue to be a vital member of my national security team, and I know that under her leadership our UN mission in New York will continue to represent American diplomacy at its best.”
Power, 42, covered the war in Bosnia in the 1990s as a writer for several newspapers and magazines. After she returned, Power earned a degree at Harvard Law School and wrote about the public policy of human rights.
She is best-known for her 2002 book, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” the work that caught Obama’s attention as a new member of the U.S. Senate.
The book pointed out the successes and failures of the United States in responding to mass atrocities, ideas that Power echoed in many public speeches and interviews after its publication.