White House Issues Annual “Armenian Remembrance Day” Statement

ANCA's Aram Hamparian: "President Obama’s legacy – silence on the Armenian Genocide, complicity in Turkey’s denials, and encouragement of Azerbaijani aggression” "

April 22, 2016

NOTE TO THE EDITOR: Following please find the text of President Obama’s annual “Armenian Remembrance Day” statement. As National Security Council officials told the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) at a meeting yesterday, the President once again refrains from properly characterizing the crime as genocide.

Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian is available for comment. Please call or email Elizabeth Chouldjian (703) 585-8254 or elizabeth@anca.org to schedule a time to chat.

Hamparian’s statement on the meeting with NSC officials and White House statement is provided below:

“It seems President Obama will end his tenure as he began it, caving in to pressure from Turkey and betraying his commitment to speak honestly about the Armenian Genocide.”

“President Obama’s unwillingness to reject Turkey’s gag-rule on the Armenian Genocide or otherwise confront the growing regional wave of anti-Armenian aggression – particularly at a time when both Ankara and Baku are placing targets on the backs of Armenians in Artsakh, Armenia, Turkey, the Middle East, and across our Diaspora – represents something far worse than simply a betrayal of his own promise. His reckless retreat from America’s anti-genocide commitments – under pressure from Turkey and Azerbaijan – in the face of their open incitement, outright aggression, and other classic genocide red flags – emboldens Erdogan and Aliyev to escalate their hostility, raising the very real risk of large-scale anti-Armenian atrocities. This, sadly, is President Obama’s legacy – silence on the Armenian Genocide, complicity in Turkey’s denials, and encouragement of Azerbaijani aggression.”


For your convenience, here are some basic facts about U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide:

** The United States first officially recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1951 in a written statement to the International Court of Justice regarding the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and later by President Reagan in 1981. http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1981/42281c.htm

** The U.S. House of Representatives adopted Armenian Genocide legislation in 1975, 1984, and reduced aid to Turkey in 1996 citing the Armenian Genocide.

** 43 of 50 U.S. States have recognized the Armenian Genocide through legislation or gubernatorial proclamation.

** 25 Countries – including 11 NATO allies – and international bodies including the European Parliament and MARCOSUR have recognized the Armenian Genocide.

President Obama’s Record

Despite his strong record as a U.S. Senator and his repeated pledges as a presidential candidate to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide, President Obama has, since taking office, enforced Ankara’s gag-rule against official US commemoration of this crime – even formally opposing Congressional efforts to reaffirm past U.S. affirmation of the Genocide. The ANCA has compiled a comprehensive review of the Obama record prior to his entering the White House.

American Philanthropy and the Armenian Genocide:

Under Congressional mandate, the US, between 1915 and 1930, embarked on an unprecedented humanitarian campaign providing the equivalent of over $2 billion in today’s dollars to help save Armenian Genocide survivors. Every US state did its part to support the humanitarian effort – documented thoroughly in state-by-state fact sheets prepared by the ANCA Western Region’s “America We Thank You” project.


The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
April 22, 2016
Statement by the President on Armenian Remembrance Day

Today we solemnly reflect on the first mass atrocity of the 20th century—the Armenian Meds Yeghern—when one and a half million Armenian people were deported, massacred, and marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman empire.

As we honor the memory of those who suffered during the dark days beginning in 1915—and commit to learn from this tragedy so it may never be repeated—we also pay tribute to those who sought to come to their aid. One such individual was U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr., who voiced alarm both within the U.S. government and with Ottoman leaders in an attempt to halt the violence. Voices like Morgenthau’s continue to be essential to the mission of atrocity prevention, and his legacy shaped the later work of human rights champions such as Raphael Lemkin, who helped bring about the first United Nations human rights treaty.

This is also a moment to acknowledge the remarkable resiliency of the Armenian people and their tremendous contributions both to the international community as well as to American society. We recall the thousands of Armenian refugees who decades ago began new lives in the United States, forming a community that has enormously advanced the vitality of this nation and risen to prominence and distinction across a wide range of endeavors. At a moment of regional turmoil to Armenia’s south, we also thank the people of Armenia for opening their arms to Syrian refugees, welcoming nearly 17,000 into their country.

As we look from the past to the future, we continue to underscore the importance of historical remembrance as a tool of prevention, as we call for a full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts, which would serve the interests of all concerned. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. I have also seen that peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past. We continue to welcome the expression of views by those who have sought to shed new light into the darkness of the past, from Turkish and Armenian historians to Pope Francis.‎

Today we stand with the Armenian people throughout the world in recalling the horror of the Meds Yeghern and reaffirm our ongoing commitment to a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous Armenia.

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street NW Washington, DC 20036
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