President Joe Biden spoke on the 1915 killing of millions of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, Saturday, becoming the first U.S. president to acknowledge it as genocide.
The term “genocide” has been avoided by the White House in order to not hinder relations with Turkey and Biden noted his statement “was not to cast blame, but to ensure what happened is never repeated.”
“Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” President Biden said. “One and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history and we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.”
The Turkey Minister of Foreign affairs denounced the U.S. president’s statement, saying it was not supported by legal or scholarly evidence.
“The nature of the events of 1915 does not change according to the current political motives of the politicians or domestic political considerations,” the Turkey Minister of affairs said in a statement. “Such an attitude serves only a vulgar distortion of history. This statement of the US, which distorts the historical facts, will never be accepted in the conscience of the Turkish people, and will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship.”
In Los Angeles County, where the highest population of Armenians reside outside of Armenia, hundreds marched in remembrance of those killed, chanting “never again,” waving Armenian flags and holding a rally in Beverly Hills that thanked President Biden.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved two motions introduced by Supervisor Kathryn Barger last week, declaring April as Armenian History Month and April 24 as the day of remembrance.
“I commend President Biden for recognizing the Armenian Genocide today on the Day of Remembrance,” Barger said of Biden’s statement. “This has been a long-awaited and hard-fought effort for Armenians to have their voices heard and for the memory of those who lost their lives to be properly honored.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom also acknowledged the historical event as “genocide,” saying:
“As we remember the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, we also honor the strength and resilience of the Armenian people. Forced to build new lives in all corners of the globe, Armenians bravely forged ahead in the face of unimaginable tragedy. Thousands made their homes in California, and we are greater for their contributions.”