SoCal Armenian Americans react to Biden possibly recognizing genocide

Thursday, April 22, 2021
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- President Joe Biden is preparing to formally acknowledge the killing of an estimated million or more Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in modern day Turkey, according to the Associated Press, citing U.S. officials.

"For many of these people, this has been a life-long struggle, and it is very personal to every single one of them because every one of their parents, grandparents, great grandparents has survived this genocide, has harrowing stories about how they embarked on the journey," said Armen Sahakyan, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America. "Many of them were children, many of them orphaned saved by the American philanthropy. So for many people, this is a closing of a wound of sort."

Armenian Americans say this is about human rights, not politics and they fear another genocide is underway. Roughly 1 million Armenian Americans live in California and for years, they've urged the U.S. government to recognize the Armenian genocide, which happened over 100 years ago.

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"I have a sense that the president is at a point in his life and in his career where he's going to do what he thinks is right, and he's willing to take whatever comes with it," said Rep. Adam Schiff.

Schiff says he's been on the phone with the administration for weeks urging this acknowledgment. Fears of hurting U.S.-Turkey relations have stood in the way of previous presidents using the word "genocide."

"If our relationship with Turkey is dependent on our being complicit in the denial of genocide it can't be much of a relationship. Genocide is the worst crime on the Earth. It's the mass extermination of people based on who they are, on their religion, their ethnicity," said Schiff.

In a statement regarding the potential acknowledgment, the Consul General of Turkey in Los Angeles said "genocide is not a generic term that can be attached to all tragic events. It is a legal term and a specific crime defined by international law. In this regard, Turkey rejects the categorization of the events of 1915 as genocide."

After former President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Biden left office, their top aides publicly apologized for not recognizing the Armenian genocide, so Biden may see this as an opportunity to fix what the past administration views as a mistake.

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