Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's about damn time.

Thanks to Violetta for letting me know about this.

WASHINGTON – The House may vote next week on a measure that could damage U.S. relations with critical ally Turkey: a resolution declaring the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide.

We've written about this before, but just to refresh your recollection, the Turks slaughtered a million and a half Armenians around the time of World War I in what is considered the first act of genocide of the Twentieth Century.

Turkey, of course, doesn't like it when people have the bad tasted to remind them of this. Turkey, a NATO ally with a pivotal role for U.S. interests in the Middle East and Afghanistan, has warned that the resolution's approval could jeopardize U.S-Turkish cooperation and set back negotiations aimed at opening the border between Turkey and Armenia. Turkey also currently holds one of the rotating seats in the United Nations' Security Council that will have to approve sanctions against Iran.

Here's what Barack Obama said about the genocide in 2008:

I also share with Armenian Americans – so many of whom are descended from genocide survivors - a principled commitment to commemorating and ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances of genocide in world history. As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. Two years ago, I criticized the Secretary of State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term "genocide" to describe Turkey's slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with Secretary 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.

Since then he has been less forthcoming. For instance, here's what he said earlier this year:

“On this solemn day of remembrance, we pause to recall that 95 years ago one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century began,” Mr. Obama said in the statement, which largely echoed the same language he used on this date a year ago. “In that dark moment of history, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.”

Still a strong condemnation, but not what he promised, and not what the world knows to be the case.

The time is long overdue. Call on your representatives in the House and Senate to support the Armenian genocide resolution.

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