Visalia mayor joins effort for recognition of genocide
12:59 AM, Apr. 30, 2012
by BRIAN MAXEY
For members of the Armenian community, April 24 stands as a powerful
reminder of tragedy.
Armenians still fight to remember the more than 1.5 million Armenians
who died in what many historians say was the first genocide of the
Mayor Amy Shuklian last week protested with demonstrators outside the
White House, calling on the United States to recognize the Armenian
genocide as such.
Shuklian, who was on a trip to the nation’s capital for official city
business, extended her stay to support the effort. The extended stay
was not financed by taxpayer dollars. Shuklian paid for the trip out
of her own wallet.
“Being a grandchild of survivors, I figured it was an opportunity for
me,”said Shuklian, who spent two days before the protest discussing
federal funding and city programs with members of Congress. “It was a
very bittersweet moment.”
Presidents have disappointed the Armenian community by not
characterizing the mass purge of Armenian people at the hands of
Ottoman authorities from 1915 to 1923 as genocide.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday avoided using the word “genocide,”
instead calling it “one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.”
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama made a promise to voters
to label the tragedy as genocide.
“There is always this talk of a resolution, so it’s very
disappointing,” Shuklian said.
She attended a commemoration on April 25 where she said congressmen
from both sides of the political spectrum spoke in support of
recognizing the events of 1915.
More than 20 countries have recognized the events as genocide.
But U.S. presidents have shied from doing so as to not alienate
Turkey, a NATO member and strategic ally in both the war in Iraq and
Still, supporters have rallied to press administrations.
“I did something that I never thought that I would do,” said Shuklian,
who joined protesters in the middle of a rainstorm.
“Standing out in the pouring rain to bring awareness to move the
United States to recognize the Armenian genocide is nothing compared
to what my grandparents and ancestors had to go through.”
Shuklian will speak about her protest, Ôªøas well as the business
trip, at the May 7 City Council meeting