News / Europe

US Holds Firm on Issue of 1915 Massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks

The mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks beginning in 1915 remains an emotional issue. A major U.S. congressional panel has described the massacre as genocide. In this report from Washington, Senior Correspondent André de Nesnera looks at the ramifications of the congressional action for the Obama administration.

Click to Listen:

Download/Play Audio File

A majority of scholars and historians agree that the massacre of an estimated one million Armenians during World War I constitutes genocide as defined by the 1948 United Nations Convention on Genocide. The text defines genocide as the intentional killing of all or part of a designated people defined by their faith, their race, their ethnicity or their nationality.

However as Ronald Suny with the University of Chicago explains, the Turkish government has a diametrically opposed view.

"Turkey rejects the notion of genocide - actually the word or the term 'genocide.' They have acknowledged that there were deportations - there is no question about that - and that there were massacres and killings. What they deny is that the massacres and killings were intentionally organized and carried out by the government - and that the killings were anything more than collateral damage," he said.

Turkey rejects use of "genocide"

Roger Smith, a co-founder of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, says many Turks refuse to use the word 'genocide.'

"I worked with some Turkish scholars and these are people who would be considered liberals and so on - but even they really kind of shy away from using the word 'genocide.' They will talk about massacres - you lay all of these things out and they say yeah, yeah, yeah, this happened, okay - well no, I don't want to use that word. So there is this emotional antipathy to pronouncing what people now almost jokingly call the 'G' word," he said.

Smith says Turkey's position is difficult to sustain. "Turkey's persistent denial and inability to face, or unwillingness to face up to its history is very disruptive in all kinds of ways - in terms of international relations, in terms of its own internal politics - and it also prevents it from really recognizing how do you deal with minorities," he said.

Recently the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed a non-binding resolution recommending that President Barack Obama recognize the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

Obama administration's position

The Obama administration opposed the resolution. After the measure passed, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration does not believe the full House of Representatives will or should vote on the resolution.

Turkey immediately recalled its ambassador to Ankara for consultations. And Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated he might not attend a mid-April nuclear energy summit in Washington hosted by President Obama.

About 20 countries - including France, Canada, Russia, the Netherlands, Sweden - have recognized the Armenian massacre as genocide.

"What's startling is that two important countries have not recognized it - the United States, repeatedly, because of its alliance with Turkey, its strategic interest in the region, its need for Turkey as a NATO ally, in its war against Iraq, has not recognized it. And secondly Israel, even though itself, its people originally suffered a great holocaust - the great genocide of World War II - has not recognized it, again for strategic reasons, its connection with Turkey." said Ronald Suny with the University of Chicago.

Suny and others point out that President Obama has changed his position. "Every presidential candidate, including President Obama, when they were campaigning, stated declaratively, clearly, fervently that they would recognize the genocide. Once they take power, of course, then these strategic security interests come into play and historical decisions, the historical truths have to be put aside. It's sad, but that's the case," he said.

Many experts say the resolution by the House Foreign Affairs Committee puts President Obama in an awkward position. But many analysts also say that may be a temporary situation, because they don't expect the measure to be taken up by the full House of Representatives.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid