NEW YORK, April 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, AJC Executive Director David Harris issued the following statement:
"This week, AJC joins those around the world who pause in mournful tribute to the memories of the estimated 1.5 million victims of the Meds Yeghern, the genocide of Armenians, committed in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.
"We applaud the European Parliament, which passed a bill this month calling on Turkey to 'use the commemoration of the centenary of the Armenian genocide as an important opportunity' to provide access to its archives, 'come to terms with its past,' and initiate a 'genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples.'
"We welcome the powerful remarks in recent days of Pope Francis, who referred to what happened to the Armenians as 'the first genocide of the 20th century.'
"Moreover, we praise German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said, 'the fate of the Armenians during World War One serves as an example of the history of mass murders, ethnic cleansings, expulsions, and, yes, the genocides during the 20th century.'
"At the same time, we regret that the U.S. has indicated, at least as of now, that it will not recognize the Armenian genocide during commemoration events this week. This decision is particularly troubling in light of President Obama's remarks (as a senator) in 2008, when he spoke poignantly about the Armenian genocide.
"And we identify with the core message of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, by then-Harvard University Professor, and now U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. History, she wrote, must be faced and the dictates of conscience heeded – or we are doomed to endless brutalities by the powerful against the weak.
"In that spirit, and as we know from our own Jewish experience, no country of good will should succumb to political pressure – in this case, by Turkey – when confronted with a question of moral integrity and historical accuracy. We hope that the U.S. will reverse its announced decision, and publicly acknowledge this atrocity by its rightful name – genocide."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee