Decision comes on eve of President Obama’s San Francisco visit; Proclaims April 24th Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO—The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday calling on President Obama to honor is pledge and “give just recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America – San Francisco Bay Area. The resolution went on to declare April 24, 2011 as Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day in San Francisco.
“I was honored to once again introduce the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” said District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who introduced on April 12, 2011. “The Armenian Genocide was a horrible crime against humanity. I join the San Francisco Armenian American community and Armenians around the world in commemorating the 96th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide,” he said.
The resolution recalls Ottoman Turkey’s systematic annihilation of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 and urges the President and Congress to properly acknowledge this dark chapter in history.
“Coming on the eve of President Obama’s San Francisco visit, this resolution sends a strong message that when it comes to genocide, the President must speak with moral clarity,” said Armen Carapetian, Chairman of the ANCA – Bay Area. “Armenian Americans are thankful to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for their exemplary dedication to ending the cycle of genocide, and urge President Obama to act decisively on this score by recognizing the Armenian Genocide,” said Carapetian.
In a series of letters and statements issued as Senator and candidate, President Obama pledged clearly and unequivocally that he would end U.S. complicity in Turkey’s genocide denial and properly recognize this crime against humanity. In a January 18, 2008, statement, in the days leading up to the Super Tuesday Primary in California, he stated, “As President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.” He has yet to honor that pledge.
The complete set of Senator Obama’s statements on the Armenian Genocide can be found at http://anca.org/change/docs/Obama_Armenian_Genocide.pdf.
On Thursday, April 21st, thousands are expected at a protest at President Obama’s “Victory Fund 2012” fundraiser in Studio City, urging the President to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Armenian American groups had called on the President to lay a wreath at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Montebello, CA, during his Southern California visit, which comes days before the April 24th international day of commemoration of this crime. The Armenian Genocide memorial visit is not on the President’s schedule as yet. California is home to over 750,000 Armenian Americans — all of whom have been touched by this tragedy.
For over 30 years, successive San Francisco Boards of Supervisors have passed resolutions honoring the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Board President David Chiu and Supervisor Elsbernd will join other elected officials and the Armenian American community at the annual Armenian Genocide commemorative observance on April 23rd at 2 p.m. at the Armenian Genocide Memorial at Mt. Davidson Cross.
The complete text of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Resolution is provided below.
Resolution declaring April 24, 2011 as Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day in San Francisco
WHEREAS, The Armenian people, living in their 3,000 year historic homeland in eastern Asia Minor and throughout the Ottoman Empire, were subjected to severe persecution and brutal injustice by the government of the Ottoman Empire before and after the turn of the twentieth century, including widespread massacres, usurpation of land and property, and acts of wanton destruction during the period from 1894 to 1896, and again in 1909; and
WHEREAS, The horrible experience of the Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government culminated in 1915 in what is known by historians as the first genocide of the twentieth century; and
WHEREAS, The Armenian Genocide began with the arrest, exile, and murder of hundreds of Armenian intellectuals, and political, religious, and business leaders, starting on April 24, 1915; and
WHEREAS, The Ottoman authorities planned and executed the unspeakable atrocities committed against the Armenian people from 1915 through 1923, which included the torture, starvation, and murder of 1,500,000 Armenians, death marches into the Syrian desert, the forced exile of more than 500,000 innocent people, and the loss of the traditional Armenian homelands; and
WHEREAS, The United States National Archives and Record Administration and the official archives of other countries hold extensive and thorough documentation on the Armenian Genocide; and
WHEREAS, The Honorable Henry Morgenthau, United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916, organized and led protests by officials of many countries, among them the allies of the Ottoman Empire, against the Armenian Genocide; and
WHEREAS, Ambassador Morgenthau explicitly described to the United States Department of State the policy of the government of the Ottoman Empire as ‘a campaign of race extermination,’ and was instructed on July 16, 1915, by United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing that the ‘Department approves your procedure. . . to stop Armenian persecution’; and
WHEREAS, Leading news agencies of the time documented the atrocities being committed against the Armenians; and
WHEREAS, Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term ‘genocide’ in 1944, and who was the earliest proponent of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, invoked the Armenian case as a definitive example of genocide in the 20th century; and
WHEREAS, The International Association of Genocide Scholars has repeatedly affirmed that the massacres of Armenians ordered by the Young Turk government constitute genocide; and
WHEREAS, The Republic of Turkey unjustifiably and adamantly denies the occurrence of this crime against humanity while actively continuing to remove traces of Armenian existence, including the destruction of cultural heritage, to this day; and
WHEREAS, The Republic of Turkey suppresses freedom of speech on the matter of the Armenian Genocide and prosecutes its citizens under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for statements related to the Armenian Genocide, including Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk and Hrant Dink, an Armenian newspaper editor, who was assassinated as a result of these prosecutions; and
WHEREAS, The passage of nine decades and the fact that few survivors remain who serve as reminders of indescribable brutality and torment, compel a sense of urgency in efforts to solidify recognition, reaffirmation and justice of historical truth; and
WHEREAS, By honoring the survivors and consistently remembering and condemning the atrocities committed against the Armenian people as well as the persecution of the Assyrian and Greek populations of the Ottoman Empire, we guard against repetition of the crime of genocide; and
WHEREAS, California has become home to the largest and most active population of Armenians in the United States, and those citizens have enriched our state through leadership in the fields of academia, medicine, business, agriculture, government, and the arts and are proud and patriotic practitioners of American citizenship; and
WHEREAS, San Francisco Armenian-Americans are predominantly descendants of the few remaining refugees, who witnessed and survived the brutal murder of their families and the destruction of their homes and institutions, and confiscation of all their properties, and
WHEREAS, Those Armenian Genocide survivors who arrived in San Francisco and reestablished themselves, built a thriving community that has created churches, civic and charitable organizations, and a school, and have become an integral part of the dynamic culture of San Francisco, and
WHEREAS, San Francisco is proud to join the Armenian-American community in its commemoration of the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in an effort to educate others about the tragic loss of life, land, and human rights of the Armenian people and the crime of genocide committed against them; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors does hereby declare April 24, 2011 as Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day in the City and County of San Francisco; and, be it,
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will send a letter to San Francisco’s elected representatives in the United States House of Representatives and Senate urging Congress and President Barack H. Obama to give just recognition of the Armenian Genocide.