YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—In what was described by the US Embassy as a “private visit,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday visited the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide memorial monument and laid a wreath at the eternal flame. She did not make any public statements.
The Armenian National Committee of America was quick to criticize Clinton’s failure for not using the opportunity to recognize the Genocide or signal “a shift away fro the Obama-Biden Administration’s policy of complicity in the Turkish government’s denial of this crime against humanity.”
“As we stated several times in our public comments in the days leading up to Secretary Clinton’s travel to Armenia, her visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial will hold profound meaning for Armenian Americans to the extent that it marks a real break from the Obama Administration’s morally bankrupt policy of complicity in Turkey’s campaign of genocide denial,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“Given the secrecy surrounding this visit, and the absence of any publicly released remarks – much less a full and formal statement recognizing the Armenian Genocide by the Secretary – it would seem at this point, sadly, that this visit, while holding certain special importance in its own right – does not represent material movement toward proper U.S. condemnation and commemoration of this crime. This visit truly was a missed opportunity for the Secretary and for America, ” added Hamparian.
At the monument, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute, Hayk Demoian, presented the history of the Memorial’s construction, discussed the Genocide and the humanitarian response by the US government and American people to the Genocide victims.
Clinton inquired about the graves of Karabakh freedom fighters who are buried at Dzidzernagapert. It was explained to her that the Armenian people see the Karabakh war as a continuation of the Armenian Genocide.
Demoian presented Clinton and her delegation with a historical medal issued by the American Near East Relief Committee in early 1920s to award the organization’s employees for their work in Armenian and Middle Eastern orphanages. Hillary Clinton was also presented with a photo depicting Armenian orphans in the American orphanage in Alexandropol (present-day Gumri). The children depicted in the photograph are shown standing to form the sentence: “America, we thank you.”
Secretary Clinton’s visit to the Memorial was shrouded in secrecy with local media barred from providing live coverage. Following her visit to the Memorial, Secretary Clinton proceeded to a meeting with civil society representatives and media outlets, where she discussed the importance of a strong democracy and unfettered media, but did not, apparently, allow for on-the-record comments or questions from participants.
As a presidential candidate, Secretary Clinton was outspoken on the importance of U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. In a January 24, 2008 statement, Clinton noted “I believe the horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide. . . Our common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.”