By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Editor
Yesterday, Samantha Power became the first Obama administration official to apologize to Armenian Americans for not recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
“I am very sorry that, during our time in office, we in the Obama administration did not recognize the #Armenian Genocide,” Power posted on Twitter.
In a series a tweets on April 24th, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, Power also discussed “Turkish denial” and expressed empathy for the “slaughter that wd kill 1.5 m.”
Samantha Power served on President Obama’s National Security Council from 2009-2013, and as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2013-2017.
She is the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, which focused on the U.S. response to 20th century genocides, including Armenia in 1915.
While the emphatic expression may be welcome to some, many Armenian Americans share the feeling of betrayal by Power, and President Obama, given the multiple statements and meetings they held with community members during the 2008 campaign.
“This is more insulting 2 our ppl than 8yrs of ignoring our requests.U sacrificed ur own conscience on the altar of geopolitical correctness,” FLArmenians Editor Arsine Kaloustian replied on Twitter.
The Obama administration’s moral laryngitis on the Armenian Genocide was compounded in 2015, the centennial anniversary, when Power and Vice President Joe Biden attended the international commemoration at the Washington National Cathedral.
Power’s re-acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide came moments after President Trump’s first statement on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day was released yesterday morning.
President Trump’s statement on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day echoed President Obama’s use of the phrase “Meds Yeghern,” and invoked language similar to President George W. Bush.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about President Trump’s omission of the word genocide during the daily press briefing. “The statement that was put out is consistent with the statements that have been put out for at least several of the past administrations,” Spicer said.
By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Editor
Today, President Donald J. Trump released his administration’s first statement on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, which is commemorated every April 24th by Armenians around the world. Using language invoked by presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush before him, President Trump did not use the term genocide to refer to the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government during World War I.
“Today, we remember and honor the memory of those who suffered during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire,” the White House statement reads.
“At a time when Christians and minority communities continue to be in imminent danger and under constant attack, the President’s statement fails to stand up for human rights and is inconsistent with American values, and represents the same kind of capitulation to Turkish authoritarianism which will cost more lives,” stated Van Krikorian and Anthony Barsamian, co-chairs of the Armenian Assembly of America.
Earlier this month, 84 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump urging him to reaffirm the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide. “By commemorating the Armenian Genocide, we renew our commitment to prevent future atrocities,” the letter reads. Florida Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) were among the signatories.
“Asked why Trump decided not to use the term, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the statement is “consistent with statements that have been put out for at least several of the last administrations,”” The Hill reported.
Trumped employed the Armenian phrase “Meds Yeghern” to describe the genocide, essentially using the Armenian equivalent of the English phrase. However, unlike, Presidents Obama and George W., Trump did not make a campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide as President.
Ronald Reagan was the last U.S. President to recognize the Armenian Genocide back in 1981.
Below is the full statement released by the White House:
Today, we remember and honor the memory of those who suffered during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in mourning the loss of innocent lives and the suffering endured by so many.
As we reflect on this dark chapter of human history, we also recognize the resilience of the Armenian people. Many built new lives in the United States and made indelible contributions to our country, while cherishing memories of the historic homeland in which their ancestors established one of the great civilizations of antiquity.
We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again. We welcome the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future.