Another cowardly display.
President Barack Obama will not use the word “genocide” to describe the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians in his annual statement commemorating the historic atrocity later this month.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes informed an official from the Armenian National Congress of America of the decision in a meeting at the White House on Tuesday.
Obama will send Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to Armenia this week to represent the United States at a commemoration of the genocide, a years-long slaughter traditionally observed on April 24. Historians mark 1915 as the start of the genocide, making this year the 100th anniversary.
The Armenians were slaughtered during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, largely in what is modern-day Turkey, at the end of World War I. Today’s Turkish leaders are infuriated by charges that the founding fathers of their nation committed genocide.
As a candidate in 2008, President Obama issued a statement promising to describe the plight of the Armenians as a genocide, but in his previous five statements he has not done so — mainly to avoid a rupture in diplomatic relations with Turkey.
Armenian-American leaders, hopeful that the 100th anniversary and recent support for their view from Pope Francis, were dejected on Tuesday.
“This is a betrayal of the truth, a betrayal of trust, a disgraceful national surrender to a foreign gag order being imposed by the government of Turkey,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, who attended the White House meeting.