State Department Website's History of Armenia Fails to Make any Mention of the Systematic Destruction and Exile of the Armenian Population between 1915 and 1923

June 4, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC – In a detailed letter sent today to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Armenian National Committee Of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian pressed the State Department to end its practice of excluding any mention of the Armenian Genocide from the history section of its official website on Armenia.

The State Department website features Background Notes on one hundred ninety-eight nations. Each entry includes a brief historical review. The historical section for Armenia makes no mention of Ottoman Turkey’s systematic destruction of over one and a half million Armenians, or the “demographic disaster” described by the Library of Congress as having “shifted the center of the Armenian population from the heartland of historical Armenia.” The ANCA issued an action alert on this issue in January of this year.

Hachikian’s letter was written in response to a State Department letter, dated May 6th, sent to Joe Dagdigian, Chairman of the Merrimack Valley ANC chapter. Dagdigian had earlier written a letter, dated April 20th, documenting a series of serious shortcomings in the State Department website on the history of Armenia. Dagdigian noted, in part, that:

The historical survey of Armenia omits any reference to the Armenian Genocide committed by Ottoman Turkey beginning in 1915. To recount nearly 3,000 years of Armenian history without the inclusion of this cataclysmic and relatively recent event in the history of the Armenian people is inexcusable. Rather than contributing to an understanding of the region, it obscures the region’s history and fails to provide the background necessary for understanding current Armenian and regional issues.

In response to Dagdigian’s letter, John Fox, the Director of the Office of Caucasus and Central Asian Affairs, noted that:

Country background notes on the State Department’s web-site were designed to provide interested readers with concise and up-to-date information regarding key economic and political issues in the country, as well as travel conditions and commercial opportunities. Country background notes also provide a very brief introduction to the country’s history. Typically, each background page will collapse over 2,000 years of history into 3-4 concise paragraphs. Consequently, even episodes of great historical importance are often not treated in our background notes.

Hachikian, responding to this letter from John Fox, wrote a sharply critical letter to Secretary Powell spelling out the historical inaccuracy, the basic inconsistency, and the moral bankruptcy of the State Department’s position of excluding the Armenian Genocide from its history of Armenia. In this letter, Hachikian wrote that:

Rather than acknowledging and taking steps to correct this obvious error – or even indicating a willingness to review this flawed document, the State Department’s letter, signed by John Fox of the Office of Caucasus and Central Asian Affairs, instead, sought to reduce this issue of profound historical and contemporary significance to a simple consideration of space.

The Hachikian letter then provides an in-depth review of the assertions made in the State Department letter, concluding that, “we find it plainly disingenuous, if not outright dishonest, to imply that the exclusion of the Armenian Genocide is based on space considerations.” Hachikian added, that, “it is clear that this historically inaccurate refusal to even acknowledge the premeditated extermination between 1915 and 1923 of fully two thirds of all Armenians by Ottoman Turkey and the exile of a nation from its historic homeland of more than three thousand years, represents another very sad chapter in the State Department’s complicity in the Turkish government’s ongoing immoral campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide.”

Hachikian closed his letter by sharing with Secretary Powell, “how truly regrettable I find it to have to engage in word-counts to illustrate the ridiculous and reprehensible lengths to which the State Department goes to help the government of Turkey to deny the undeniable – the crime of genocide committed against the Armenian nation. In the interest of basic morality, historical accuracy, and the State Department’s credibility, on behalf of the American-Armenian community, I ask you to immediately correct this obvious and insulting ‘error.'”

Armenian Americans can express their concern about the Armenia Background Notes by visiting the ANCA website,

Please review the full text of the following documents below.

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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