Fresno Armenian American: Nothing but empty promises from U.S. politicians on genocide

05:00 AM
The electricity building in Stepanakert, destroyed in the recent conflict with Azerbaijan forces. It is the largest city of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh. Courtesy of Sevag Tateosian

While campaigning to become president of the United States, then candidate Joe Biden stated, “If elected, I pledge to support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and will make universal human rights a top priority.” 

Despite this bold promise, I am not holding my breath. I’ve heard this talk before. President Obama while campaigning promised the same thing, only to balk at the threats of the Turkey government. Until we find a better location of our airbase, Incirlik, the United States will always be at the mercy of Turkey, and the Turkish government isn’t doing United States taxpayers any favors. The airbase has cost us billions of dollars and many “back stabs.” 

What made the Obama presidency unique is that his ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, wrote a book about genocide and openly talked about the Armenian Genocide. She too was mute when it came down to the recognition. She later apologized. Ms. Power is back in the Biden administration as head of the United States Agency of International Development (USAid). Will she have the strength to urge her boss to recognize the Armenian Genocide? Again, I not holding my breath. 


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Tough talking President Trump also failed to recognize the Genocide. He never promised, but, it was under his administration that Turkey teamed up with Syrian foreign mercenaries and Azerbaijan to attack, take and push ethnic Armenians off of their historic homeland of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh). Civilians were beheaded, and to this day, more than 200 are held captive, including a family who headed back to their home in Artsakh to retrieve personal items. Already Azerbaijan’s government is at work erasing Armenian culture. Their claim? Armenian churches are really Albanian churches. 

I will give President Trump credit, he did sanction Turkey — not for the war provoking actions around the world, but for buying Russian military equipment. 

Already, the Biden administration is not off to a good start on this issue. United States ambassador to Azerbaijan Earle Litzenberger has reportedly congratulated Azerbaijan for “restoring its territorial integrity” and has expressed U.S. readiness to take part in rebuilding lands that came under Baku’s control after the war. 

If this is true, President Biden’s administration gets an “F”. Anyone who knows their history knows that Armenians inhabited that land well before Turkish and Azeri bloodlines got there. Litzenberger should apologize for his damaging comments. What hurts even more? He allegedly said, “American companies are ready to participate in reconstruction efforts.” 

As an American, I am appalled. Azerbaijan is a dictatorship, like Turkey. Since 1993 the Aliyev family has run the country. Perhaps Litzenberger should express “the U.S.’ readiness” to make sure the 200 held captive are returned to Armenia. He should also inquire about the Azerbaijani journalists jailed for speaking the truth about their government. It’s interesting, in Azerbaijan and Turkey, journalists get more jail time than ISIS members who behead people. 

I grew up saying “never again” to the Armenian Genocide, thinking that the world, especially in the 21st century, wouldn’t allow such terrible atrocity to occur. Now I know how naïve I was. Not only did it happen again (Armenians being slaughtered for their ethnicity on their historic homeland) but it was well documented and the world saw it through pictures and videos on social media and did nothing to stop it. Never again? Unfortunately, I’ve learned those are two meaningless words.

Sevag Tateosian of Fresno is a volunteer with the Armenian National Committee of America fighting for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in honor of his great-grandparents and grandparents, who were forced to flee their historic homeland.
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