AAA: Assembly comments on Bush Genocide Statement

Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-363-4904
Email: [email protected]

April 26, 2004
Contact: David Zenian
E-Mail [email protected]


WASHINGTON -The Armenian Assembly of America Monday expressed surprise and
disappointment in President Bush’s statement of commemoration on the
occasion of the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide which used
language to clearly define the events but once again stopped short of using
the word genocide.

In his statement this year, the President said, in part:

“On this day, we pause in remembrance of one of the most horrible tragedies
of the 20th century, the annihilation of as many as 1.5 million Armenians
through forced exile and murder at the end of the Ottoman Empire.”

While the choice of words in President Bush’s statement were in effect a
textbook definition of the crime which many nations have acknowledged and
recognized as the first genocide of the 20th century, the statement this
year again fell short of his 2000 election campaign pledge when he said:

“The 20th century was marred by unimaginable brutality, mass murder and
genocide. History records that the Armenians were the first people in the
last century to have endured these cruelties. Armenians were subjected to a
genocidal campaign that defies comprehension… If elected President, I
would ensure that our nation properly recognizes the tragic suffering of the
Armenian people.”

But for the 4th Armenian Genocide commemorative statement since his
election, President Bush again failed to fulfill his election promise.

“It is deeply disappointing that our President chose to avoid historical
truth and the politically inevitable – U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian
Genocide. With our northern neighbor last week joining the growing list of
nations that reject Turkish threats of retribution, the U.S. may well be the
last western nation to do what is right,” Assembly Board of Trustees
Chairman Hirair Hovnanian said.

The Canadian House of Commons last weeks joined France, Italy, the Vatican,
a number of other European countries and the European Parliament in
acknowledging this crime against humanity as genocide.

Also last week, the New York Times reversed decades of ambiguity by
declaring in favor of using the term “genocide” to describe the cataclysm of
1915. The Boston Globe adopted a similar policy change last year.

“The process of genocide affirmation is clear. When any reputable or
resolute government, journal or international body examines the facts, sets
aside politics and rejects Turkish intimidation, the Armenian Genocide is
reaffirmed,” Assembly Board of Directors Chairman Anthony Barsamian said.

Unlike President Bush, Democratic Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry
(D-MA) last week reiterated his often stated recognition of the Genocide and
called on “governments and people everywhere to formally recognize this
tragedy. Only by learning from this dark period of history and working to
prevent further genocides can we truly honor the memories of those Armenians
who suffered unjustly.”

The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

NR # 2004-046

Following is the text of President Bush’s statement:

“On this day, we pause in remembrance of one of the most horrible
tragedies of the 20th century, the annihilation of as many as 1.5
million Armenians through forced exile and murder at the end of the
Ottoman Empire. This terrible event remains a source of pain for
people in Armenia and Turkey and for all those who believe in
freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of every human life. I join with
my fellow Americans and the Armenian community in the United States
and around the world in mourning this loss of life.

The United States is proud of the strong ties we share with Armenia.
>From the end of World War I and again since the reemergence of an
independent Armenian state in 1991, our country has sought a
partnership with Armenia that promotes democracy, security
cooperation, and free markets. Today, our Nation remains committed to
a peace settlement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and is grateful
for Armenia’s continuing cooperation in the war on terror. By
advancing understanding and goodwill, free nations can help build a
brighter future for the world. Our country seeks to help Armenia
expand its strategic relations with the United States and our
European allies.

Generations of Armenian Americans have also strengthened our
communities and enriched our Nation’s character. By preserving their
heritage, faith, and traditions, Armenian Americans enhance the
diversity that makes America great.

I commend individuals in Armenia and Turkey who have worked to
support peace and reconciliation, including through the
Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission, and call on Armenia and
Turkey to restore their economic, political, and cultural ties. I
also send warm wishes and expressions of solidarity to the Armenian
people on this solemn day of remembrance.”