WATERTOWN, MA — Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland on October 25 retracted a historically inaccurate proclamation regarding Turkey that he had issued on August 30, reported the Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA ER).
The retraction came after a major statewide grassroots effort focused on setting the historical record straight. (The full text of the October 25 statement by Governor Rowland’s office is appended.)
The proclamation, titled “Day of Remembrance for the Turkish Zafer Holiday in the State of Connecticut,” glorified Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, and perpetuated a number of myths about Turkey.
Among the myths noted in the proclamation was that Turkey has made significant contributions to US foreign policy, that Turkey enjoys a long history of friendship and harmonious coexistence with different ethnic groups under its rule, and that Turkey is a staunch ally of the United States.
Although the proclamation did accurately state that “millions of the Ottoman Empire citizens, from different religious and ethnic backgrounds,” died during the years of World War I, it failed to note that these victims were mostly Armenians, Greeks, and other minorities massacred on orders by the Turkish authorities in what constituted the first genocide of the twentieth century.
ANCA ER Director Arin Gregorian praised the Governor of Connecticut for his commitment to setting the historical record straight. Gregorian noted, “By retracting the ‘Turkish Zafer Holiday’ proclamation Governor Rowland has confirmed that the state of Connecticut will not participate —knowingly or unknowingly — in attempts to revise history.”
Gregorian also noted the important role that citizens of Connecticut played in informing the Governor of the imminent danger of revisionism. “Connecticut citizens of Armenian and Greek heritage refused to allow their state to fall victim to Turkish attempts to distort and deny history,” Gregorian stated.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots political organization. The ANCA actively advances a broad range of issues of concern to the Armenian-American community.
Full Text of Statement from the Office of Governor John G. Rowland
October 25, 2001
Armenian National Committee Of America Eastern Region
80 Bigelow Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472
Dear Mr. Gregorian:
Thank you for your recent letter to Governor Rowland about the State of Connecticut Official Statement regarding the Turkish Zafer Holiday. I understand the deep concern of the Armenian National Committee of America concerning this matter. The Official Statement declaring August 30, 2001 as a “Day of Remembrance for the Turkish Zafer Holiday in the State of Connecticut” has been retracted due to historical inaccuracies.
Please be aware that the Governor’s Office receives thousands of requests for proclamations and official statements each year. The purpose in fulfilling these requests is to help promote worthy causes and organizations, and to bring recognition to the requesting groups. It is never the intent of any official statement issued by the Governor’s office to create controversy within the diverse communities in our state.
We apologize for any confusion or distress it may have caused, particularly to the Armenian and Greek communities in Connecticut. Governor Rowland has issued proclamations in the past recognizing the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and will continue to do so in the future.
Daniel Moreland (signed)