President Joe Biden has formally recognized that the systematic killings and deportations of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces in the early 20th century constituted “genocide” – using a term for the atrocities that his White House predecessors have avoided for decades.
Biden followed through on a campaign promise he made a year ago Saturday – the annual commemoration of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day – to recognize that the events of 1915 to 1923 were a deliberate effort to wipe out Armenians.
But Biden campaigned on a promise to make human rights a central guidepost of his foreign policy.
He argued when making the campaign pledge last year that failing to call the atrocities against the Armenian people a genocide would pave the way for future mass atrocities.
An estimated 2 million Armenians were deported and 1.5 million were killed in the events known as Metz Yeghern.
According to reports, during a telephone call yesterday, Biden informed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of his plan to issue the statement.
In Armenia, people streamed to the hilltop complex in Yerevan, the capital, that memorializes the victims. Many laid flowers around the eternal flame, creating a wall of blooms two meters high.
The world’s largest Armenian non-profit organization, the Armenian General Benevolent Union released a statement saying that the utterance of one word has redrawn the line between historical truth and the false narratives that have cast shadows of doubt and confusion among members of the global media, academia, and the diplomatic community for decades.
This has caused great damage to the psyches of all survivors and their descendants whose wounds are left unhealed by the well-crafted and orchestrated deception of Turkey’s government, the statement said.
The practice of historical revisionism and genocide denial, combined with threats of retaliation against the interests of United States for stating the obvious, the Armenian organisation said, have now been discredited at the highest level of American power and influence.
Lawmakers and Armenian American activists have been lobbying Biden to make the genocide announcement on or before remembrance day.