President Joe Biden on Saturday realized a long-sought goal of Armenian Americans, declaring the mass killing of Armenians early in the 20th century by Turkey as a “genocide.”
“Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” Biden said in a statement.
A genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group.
The statement breaks with longstanding US evasion on using the term. Turkey has long denied that the killings were a “genocide,” claiming the actions were part of a war. As an important US ally and NATO member, those wishes were respected by many US administrations.
But now, on the 106th anniversary of the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million people, Biden kept a campaign promise and delivered the words Armenians have long sought to hear.
Turkey was expecting the statement. Its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was informed during a phone call with Biden that he would make the move. Turkey lobbied hard to prevent the announcement in the media, but ultimately failed to stem the statement.
“We affirm the history,” Mr. Biden said in his Saturday statement. “We do this not to cast blame, but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”
Southern California has the largest Armenian community outside of Yerevan, with many living in Los Angeles-adjacent Glendale, Calif.
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