President Joe Biden has formally recognized that the systematic killings and deportations of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces in the early 20th century were “genocide” — using a term for the atrocities that his White House predecessors have avoided for decades over concerns of alienating Turkey.
With the acknowledgement, President Biden followed through on a campaign promise he made a year ago to recognize that the events of 1915 to 1923 were a deliberate effort to wipe out Armenians.
Biden used a presidential proclamation to make the pronouncement on Saturday, the annual commemoration of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
"Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores," said President Biden in an official statement released Saturday. "We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated."
Saturday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attended a memorial service at the monument to the victims of mass killings by Ottoman Turks, to commemorate the 106th anniversary of the massacre, in Yerevan, Armenia.
Armenians marked the anniversary of the death of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks, an event widely viewed by scholars as genocide, though Turkey refutes the claim.
Read President Biden's statement in its entirety below:
Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring. Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.
Of those who survived, most were forced to find new homes and new lives around the world, including in the United States. With strength and resilience, the Armenian people survived and rebuilt their community. Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores. We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.
Today, as we mourn what was lost, let us also turn our eyes to the future—toward the world that we wish to build for our children. A world unstained by the daily evils of bigotry and intolerance, where human rights are respected, and where all people are able to pursue their lives in dignity and security. Let us renew our shared resolve to prevent future atrocities from occurring anywhere in the world. And let us pursue healing and reconciliation for all the people of the world.
The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.