04/24/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern has learned that President Joe Biden has released a statement affirming the Armenian Genocide of 1915. President Biden is the only president since Ronald Reagan to refer to this mass atrocity perpetuated by Ottoman-era Turkish authorities against Armenian Christians as a genocide. The Turkish government has failed to take responsibility and has actively denied their role in this, allowing them to pursue genocidal policies against Armenians such as in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh).
In his statement, President Biden mourned the many Armenians who had suffered and lost their lives during the genocide. “Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to prevent such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” the president said in the statement. “And let us pursue healing and reconciliation for all the people of the world. The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.”
In past years, American presidents have opted not to use the word genocide in annual statements on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day due to pressure from the Turkish government. President Biden reportedly discussed his decision to make the designation on a call yesterday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the first call between the two since Biden took office in January.
Turkish officials condemned the statement from the US President, continuing their policy of genocide denial. Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs immediately tweeted, “We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice. We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism.” It is worth noting that Turkish historical scholars and journalists who affirm the genocide face imprisonment, such as in the case of Osman Kavala.
The Ottoman Empire undertook the genocide against Armenians beginning in 1915, a policy which continued during the initial years of the Republic of Turkey. It is estimated that at least 1.5 million Armenian Christians were killed or displaced from present-day Turkey, forcing many Armenians to resettle elsewhere and causing large Armenian populations to grow across the world, such as in California.
More recently, Turkey supported Azerbaijan’s aggressions against Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azerbaijani troops alongside Turkish-paid Syrian mercenaries invaded the region and took control after a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement in December. Evidence of violence against Armenian civilians and destruction of religious sites during this conflict suggests some religious and ethnic hatred towards Armenian Christians still held by many, reminiscent of the genocide over a century ago.
ICC’s Advocacy Director, Matias Perttula, welcomed the statement by the president, saying “We at ICC commend President Biden for standing up to Turkey with this designation. Armenian Christians continue to suffer because of the systematic Ottoman campaign of 1915, and the United States owes it to the Armenian community to stand with them in solidarity by recognizing their suffering. As heirs to the oldest Christian nation, Armenians are an integral part of the global community of Christians and ought to enjoy freedom from persecution.”