More than 1.5 million Armenians were massacred between 1914 and 1918 for the express purpose of ending their collective existence. This event remains one of the most tragic events of the 20th century, and has been called the first modern genocide. But yet, a century after the Armenian Genocide, its perpetrator --Turkey -- still refuses to make peace with its genocidal past. Not only does the country deny its shameful past, but on top of that, it condemns any type of recognition from foreign governments with threats and bullying tactics.
After these atrocities, Armenians settled in America and became Armenian Americans. In fact, America became the home of the second-largest Armenian population outside of the homeland. For years, the Armenian community has been hoping that the government would one day acknowledge their tragic instance of genocide.
After all, America is the land of freedom, diversity, justice, and opportunity, and a President who embodies all these values.
As a presidential candidate, then-Senator Barack Obama declared "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... as President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide."
Six years later, the Armenian Genocide still hasn't been formally recognized.
You might wonder why: Turkey has warned that formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide would deeply affect its relations with America. Therefore, President Obama seems reticent to upset Turkey, a crucial NATO ally. For instance, last year, a resolution aiming at recognizing the massacre as genocide was adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Turkey threatened that such recognition would deeply harm Turkish-American relations.
Turkey's denial is nearly unprecedented from a state. As Dr. Stanton explains, it is a "continuation of the genocide, because it is a continuing attempt to destroy the victim group psychologically and culturally, to deny its members even the memory of the murders of their relatives."
So what's the takeaway? As Robert Dold, U.S. Representative for Illinois recently affirmed, "we can't play politics with something this important."
April 24, 2015 will mark the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. With President Obama's second term coming to a close, let's hope that he will take this unique opportunity to recognize it.
Hope that he will "fully acknowledge one of humanity's "most horrific crimes."
Hope that he will "help prevent future genocides by reaffirming that we will not tolerate affronts to human dignity."