Category Archives: Politics

Miami Congresswoman Donna Shalala Commemorates Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL)

South Florida Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL) joined 50 of her Congressional colleagues to issue a statement on April 24th, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

“Over 100 years ago, my grandparents fled the Ottoman Empire to escape the #ArmenianGenocide”, she posted on Twitter.

Shalala was the only Florida Representative to issue a statement this year. She was also an outspoken supporter of the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution and spoke on the floor of the House during the debate when it passed on October 29, 2019 for the first time in U.S. history.

Armenians around the world commemorate the World War I-era mass killings of 1.5 million of their kin every year on April 24th, when in 1915 the Ottoman Turkish government rounded up and murdered over 200 Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople (Istanbul) marking the beginning of the Armenian Genocide.

Trump, Biden Issue Dueling Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day Statements

By Taniel Koushakjian

On April 24, 2020 President Donald J. Trump issued the official White House statement on Armenian Genocide remembrance day “memorializing the lives lost during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century.  Beginning in 1915, 1 and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.  On this day of remembrance, we pay respect to those who suffered and lost their lives, while also renewing our commitment to fostering a more humane and peaceful world,” the White House statement read.

Hours after President Trump’s statement, former Vice President Joe Biden issued his April 24 statement. Like Trump, and Obama before him, Biden invoked the phrase Meds Yeghern which what Armenians call the Armenian Genocide. However, Biden’s statement went all the way, using the Armenian and English versions.

“Today we remember the atrocities faced by the Armenian people in the Metz Yeghern — the Armenian Genocide,” Biden said. “From 1915 to 1923, almost 2 million Armenians were deported en mass, and 1.5 million men, women, and children were killed. Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians were also targeted. We must never forget or remain silent about this horrific and systematic campaign of extermination. And we will forever respect the perseverance of the Armenian people in the wake of such tragedy,” the former Vice President said.

Biden served as Vice President to President Barack Obama from 2008-2016. Biden and Obama pledged to recognize the Armenian Genocide as President once they reached the White House in 2008. However, the Obama-Biden Administration broke it’s promise to the Armenian American community and stopped short of using the “g” word.

Biden’s statement today seems to be the only step left for the Democratic Party to win over Armenian American voters, in terms of a campaign pledge and an actual policy correction in the Executive Brach of the U.S. government.

Campaigning for President in 2016, Donald Trump did not issue a campaign statement to the Armenian American community. Since taking office, the Trump White House has continued to refer to the Ottoman Turkish murder of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 as “mass atrocities” but has stoped short of applying the proper legal name for what historians overwhelming acknowledge as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Artsakh Votes 2020: Presidential, Parliamentary Election Results

On March 31st, the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) held free and democratic elections for president and parliament. With a turnout of 72.7%, this year’s election was the first time that the young republic held presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously.

The Artsakh Foreign Ministry issued a statement, which states in part: “We are convinced that the strengthening of democratic traditions and their spread throughout the South Caucasus will become an important contribution to ensuring peace, stability and predictability in the region, as well as create the necessary conditions for the final settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict by exclusively peaceful means. The consistent efforts of the authorities and people of Artsakh should be supported by the international community, since the strengthening of democracy, human rights and the rule of law is universal and therefore is the collective responsibility of the entire world community.”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry released a statement on the successful election stating, “The right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination is the foundation for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This reality has been fully reflected in the principles and elements of settlement presented by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, which envisage the determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will.”

During the election process, Azerbaijan military forces again violated the cease-fire agreement and fired upon civilian Armenian villages.

Below are the presidential results reported by the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Artsakh:

  • Arayik Harutyunyan – 49.26% (Free Motherland-UCA Alliance)
  • Masis Mayilyan – 26.4% (New Artsakh Alliance)
  • Vitali Balasanyan – 14.7% (Justice Party of Artsakh)
  • Davit Ishkhanyan – 2.56% (Armenian Revolutionary Federation)
  • Ashot Ghoulyan – 2.3% (Democratic Party of Artsakh)
  • Hayk Khanumyan – 1.3% (National Renaissance Party)
  • Vahan Badasyan – 1 percent (United Armenia Party)
  • Davit Babayan – 0.8% (Conservative Party of Artsakh)
  • Ruslan Israyelyan – 0.5% (Independence Generation Party)
  • Kristin Balayan – 0.3% (Independent candidate)
  • Ashot Dadayan – 0.3% (Independent candidate)
  • Bella Lalayan – 0.2% (Independent candidate)
  • Melsik Poghosyan – 0.2% (Independent candidate)
  • Sergey Amiryan – 0.2% (Independent candidate)

Since no candidate received over 50% of the vote, the top two candidates, Arayik Harutyunyan and Masis Mayilyan, proceed to a runoff election which will take place on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

In Artsakh’s parliamentary elections, twelve political parties participated and five secured participation in parliament by passing the 5% threshold for parties and 7% for blocs, according to a report issued by Artsakh Central Election Commission Chairwoman Srbuhi Arzumanyan. The elected parliamentary parties are Free Motherland-UCA Alliance (40.4%), United Homeland Party (23.63%), Justice Party of Artsakh (7.9%), Armenian Revolutionary Federation (6.4%), and Democratic Party of Artsakh (5.81%).