For Armenians, the 24th of April is a special date. Today they mark 94 years since the massacres in the Ottoman Turkey, which started with the mass arrests and killings of Armenian intellectuals as well as religious, cultural and political elite.
The mass killings of the Armenian population during the WWI are referred to as “genocide” in many Western countries. Contemporary Turkey though refuses to label the killings as “genocide”, claiming that during the WWI many people died, both Armenians and Turks and that the massacres occurred on both sides due to the inter-ethnic strife and general violence during the war. Turkey avoids tagging the massacres as “genocide” and objects to anyone making a statement of their responsibility.
Probably the most vivid factor of disappointment these days was the statement by the President of the USA Barack Obama, when he twisted his promises to acknowledge publicly the massacres of nearly 1.5 million Armenians as “genocide” and chose instead to “pause to remember … one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century“. His pre-election campaign statements were too far-stretched or good to be true, one can infer. Here are some excerpts from his statement in January 2008:
“As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey’s acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide … I shared with Secretary (Condoleezza) Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy … As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.” (Associated Press)
Needless to say, the Armenian community worldwide was let down by Obama’s decision to refrain from calling the massacres “genocide”. The Turkish community, too, were not happy with his statement on 24th of April calling his expressions unacceptable.
Even though many countries agree on the seriousness of the extensive massacres, calling them the first genocide of the 20th century, among those Russia, France, Argentina, Greece, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, as well as 42 of 50 states of the USA, there are still those who choose not to recognise the killings as “genocide”.