NEW YORK (AFP) – President Joe Biden’s recognition of the Armenian genocide was met Saturday (April 24) by tempered satisfaction from the nation’s United States diaspora, with some saying the words need to result in more pressure against Turkey.
“It’s a middle step, because (Biden) didn’t say Turkey,” said Ms Yvette Gevorkian, who was among some 400 people who marched in New York City to mark the memory of the World War I-era killings.
“But it’s a victory for all this time we’ve been working towards,” added the 51-year-old who arrived in the US from Iran at the age of nine.
As many as 1.5 million Armenians are estimated to have been killed from 1915 to 1917 during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, which suspected the Christian minority of conspiring with adversary Russia in World War I.
Armenian populations were rounded up and deported into the desert of Syria on death marches in which many were shot, poisoned or fell victim to disease, according to accounts at the time by foreign diplomats.
Turkey, which emerged as a secular republic from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, acknowledges that 300,000 Armenians may have died but strongly rejects that it was genocide.
It’s a delicate issue for NATO ally Turkey, and nations like France, Germany and Canada that have recognised the genocide.
“One side you say ‘I recognise the Armenian genocide’ but at the same time, you’re giving (Turkey) technology, you support their army,” said 40-year-old Mher Janian of the Armenian National Committee of America grassroots group.
Still, it’s “a step toward the future for reparations, for good relationship with our neighbours,” he added.
Justice should prevail
Recognition has been a top priority for Armenia and Armenian-Americans, with calls for compensation and property restoration over what they call Meds Yeghern – the Great Crime – and appeals for more support against Turkish-backed neighbor Azerbaijan.
Marchers also gathered in Los Angeles, home to one of the largest Armenian communities in the world, to mark the day with Armenian flags and calls for