Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Wednesday once again called on President Obama to officially recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915 – a request that for years has gone unfulfilled amid political pressure from a key NATO ally, Turkey.
The genocide of 1915 to 1918 claimed the lives of roughly 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, which became the modern republic of Turkey.
Modern day Turkey disputes that genocide took place, claiming the victims were killed during the violent chaos of World War I and its aftermath.
As a candidate, Obama used the term genocide to refer to the massacre, but since taking office, has steered clear of the verbiage as a way – critics say – to appease Turkey, an important military ally in the Middle East.
Each year, Obama has issued a statement marking the anniversary of the start of the first genocide of the 20th Century, and each year, the chorus of criticism grows as thousands of Armenians take part in commemorations around the world in late April.
Schiff, the lead sponsor of the Armenian genocide recognition resolution in Congress, has asked that Obama finally call the tragic event what it truly in an official capacity.
“I urge you to acknowledge the Armenian genocide in your statement this year, to call genocide, genocide, and to stand with the ever-dwindling number of survivors, as well as the descendants of those who were lost, and who must otherwise continue to suffer the indignity, injury and pain of denial,” Schiff said in his letter.
He pointed out that Obama has used the word genocide in the past and the Armenian genocide has also been recognized by many governments the world over.
City Editor Mark Kellam contributed to this report.