Reverend Clergy, Honorable members of Congress, dear friends and fellow Armenians,
1915 – 1.5 million. These numbers are etched in the hearts and minds of every Armenian invoking memories and stories of the unimaginable horror and suffering of a whole nation. In the words of Pope Francis, the Armenian Genocide was the “first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century, made possible by twisted racial, ideological or religious aims that darkened the minds of the tormentors even to the point of planning the annihilation of entire peoples.”
Unfortunately, these events and the mindset are not just confined to the 20th century. Today, the same twisted forces are wreaking havoc in the Middle East, causing unspeakable misery to millions of people. As we have witnessed time and time again, when such actions are not exposed and thwarted by the international community and the perpetrators are not brought to justice, history will repeat itself. That is why this demand for justice, the demand for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, is not just relevant to us Armenians, but rather to the whole world.
As we stand here commemorating the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish government continues to steadfastly deny it ever happened. Despite overwhelming evidence and acceptance by the international community, the closest that the Turkish leaders have ever come to acknowledging the Armenian Genocide is by making token statements about the so called “common pain and suffering” of all Ottoman subjects during those years. These meek attempts are nothing more than failed tactics of deflection and diversion from the glaring truth.
If the ultimate goal of such policies is the hope that we will eventually get tired or give up, then our presence here today, at the Times Square and all across the globe, commemorating the 102nd anniversary, should be a clear message to the Turkish government that no passage of time or generational change will ever shake our resolve or deter us from pursuing our demand for justice.
Fortunately not every Turkish citizen is being blinded by its government’s false propaganda. Today, the term Armenian genocide is no longer a taboo in Turkey, and we are encouraged by the growing number of intellectuals, who are finding the courage within them to come out and publicly acknowledge the genocide.
We salute these brave men and women and hope that the day will come, when these intellectuals are joined by thousands of other Turkish citizens, who are ready to unburden themselves of the moral responsibility of crimes perpetrated by their Ottoman ancestors and create the necessary push from the “bottom up”, as the late Hrant Dink believed, to force their government to change its official policy of denial.
On behalf of the Armenian Council of America, I would like to thank the members of Congress and other officials for not only standing with us side by side in our quest for recognition and justice, but also for their efforts in ensuring that Armenia and Artzakh continue to receive the necessary support from the US government as they face relentless blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey.
I would like to conclude with a quote from 19th century clergyman Theodore Parker that was made famous by Martin Luther King Jr. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward Justice.