Today marks the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, during which over 1,500,000 civilians were murdered by the Turkish Ottoman state, because of their ethnicity and Christian faith.
Following the Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide Observance, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) noted,
“Tonight, we commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and remember the lives of the one and a half million Armenians who were needlessly slaughtered by Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923.
This anniversary, nearly a century later, gives us an opportunity to acknowledge the atrocities committed against the Armenian people for exactly what it was—genocide.
As we join together to renew our commitment to prevent and end injustices where they exist, Turkey must also come to terms with its own history and prevent a shroud of denial from covering up one of the most horrific tragedies in world history.”
Many credit the public outcry over the Armenian Genocide as being the first humanitarian movement in the United States. It resulted in the creation of the Near East Foundation in 1915, which raised over $100,000,000 for Armenian survivors and orphans. Hollywood stars joined the campaign to raise money and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson arbitrated land claims against the Ottoman Empire that would have guaranteed Armenia access to the sea. But Armenians were soon forgotten as national and energy interests trumped concerns for international law and justice.
Ninety-nine years later, the failure to confront the Armenian Genocide still impacts us today. One of the most recent cases was the assassination in 2007 of Hrant Dink, the editor of an Armenian-language newspaper in Turkey, who wrote about the Armenian Genocide. The European Court for Human Rights found that Turkey was culpable for his death. Turkish human rights advocates and Dink’s family continue to protest, because only the trigger man and not the true masterminds behind his assassination have been brought to justice.
The United States government, by recognizing and officially commemorating the Armenian Genocide can help ensure that the lessons of this terrible crime against humanity are used to prevent future genocides against the Armenians or any other people.
The Armenian National Committee of America is leading efforts to pass two resolutions officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide (H. Res.227 and S. Res. 410). By passing them, the U.S. will stand on the side of the oppressed and will help set the stage for a lasting peace between the Turkish and Armenian people.
Noting why recognition is important, Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY) said,
“The only way to truly honor the countless victims of the Armenian Genocide and build a world that rejects hatred is to remember and commemorate the sacrifices of these innocents. Our remembrance ensures that we never permit or tolerate such atrocities ever again.”
Kate Nahapetian is the Government Affairs Director at Armenian National Committee of America.