Biden says 1915 Armenian massacre constitutes genocide

Biden says 1915 Armenian massacre constitutes genocide
US President Joe Biden (L). Armenia's PM Nikol Pashinyan lays flowers at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan on April 24, 2021. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 25 April 2021

Biden says 1915 Armenian massacre constitutes genocide

Biden says 1915 Armenian massacre constitutes genocide
  • Up to 1.5 million died from 1915 to 1917
  • ‘Atrocity’ must never be repeated, Biden says

ANKARA / WASHINGTON: The murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces a century ago was genocide, US President Joe Biden acknowledged on Saturday.

The recognition, the first by a US leader, came on the 106th anniversary of the day the killings began in 1915.

In his statement, Biden said the American people honor “all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.”

“Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history,” Biden said. 

“We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” Biden said. 

“We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated,” he said.

READ MORE

An Arab News Spotlight piece ‘Better late than never’: Why the US recognition of the Armenian Genocide is significant looks at the importance of using the correct language with regard to the events of 106 years ago. Read it here.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan thanked Biden for his “powerful step toward justice and invaluable support to the heirs of the Armenian genocide victims.”

The killings took place from 1915 to 1917 during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, which suspected the Christian minority of conspiring with Russia during the First World War. 

Armenians were rounded up and sent into the Syrian desert on death marches in which many were shot, poisoned or died from disease.

Turkey, which emerged as a republic from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, has always rejected allegations of genocide. It claims that about 300,000 Armenians died, mainly from war and famine.

The largely symbolic move, breaking away from decades of carefully calibrated language from the White House, was welcomed by the Armenian diaspora in the US, but comes at a time when Ankara and Washington grapple with deep policy disagreements over a host of issues.

For decades, measures recognizing the Armenian genocide stalled in the US Congress and most US presidents have refrained from calling it that, stymied by concerns about relations with Turkey and intense lobbying by Ankara. 

Ronald Reagan, the former US president from California, a hub for the Armenian diaspora in the US, had been the only US president to publicly call the killings genocide.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One, but contests the figures and denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.

Turkey's government and most of the opposition showed rare unity in their rejection of Biden's statement.

“Words cannot change or rewrite history,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after Biden’s acknowledgment on Saturday. “We will not take lessons from anyone on our history.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said debates “should be held by historians” and not “politicized by third parties.”

Nevertheless, analysts expect the response from Turkey to be muted. 

Soner Cagaptay, a Turkish academic at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, pointed out that Biden’s statement mentioned “Constantinople” rather than modern-day Istanbul, and there was no reference to Turkey. 

“It is a carefully crafted, victim-focused, and forward-looking document that avoids finger pointing at Turkey,” he told Arab News.

“In the short term, I think Erdogan will play this down. He is going to do it with non-confrontational rhetoric because for the first time he needs the US more than he believes the US needs him.”

In Montebello, California, a city in Los Angeles County that is home to many Armenian-Americans, members of the community held a small and somber ceremony during which they placed a cross made of flowers at a monument to the victims. Some attendees wore pins reading "genocide denied genocide repeated."

Raffi Hamparian, chairman of Armenian National Committee of America, said in a statement that Biden's "principled stand ... pivots America toward the justice deserved and the security required for the future of the Armenian nation."

(With Reuters)

 


Three injured after explosion in Munich – police

Three injured after explosion in Munich – police
Updated 8 sec ago

Three injured after explosion in Munich – police

Three injured after explosion in Munich – police
  • Rail travel to and from the main train station has been suspended, according to rail operator Deutsche Bahn
BERLIN: An old aircraft bomb exploded at a bridge near Munich’s busy main train station on Wednesday, injuring three people, police said on Twitter.
The explosion happened during construction work, police said.
Due to the explosion, rail travel to and from the main train station has been suspended, according to rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks
Updated 48 min 53 sec ago

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks
  • BioNTech/Pfizer, will have jabs available for children in the bloc in two weeks’ time

BRUSSELS: The EU’s main Covid vaccine provider, BioNTech/Pfizer, will have jabs available for children in the bloc in two weeks’ time, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.
She said she had spoken with the German-US joint venture about the issue the day before, and they said “they are able to accelerate — in other words children’s vaccines will be available as of December 13.”


Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success

Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success
Updated 01 December 2021

Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success

Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success
  • Under the new rules, most arriving passengers must show negative test results at Portugal’s airports, seaports and land borders
  • Authorities in Portugal have confirmed an outbreak of the new coronavirus variant, omicron, among members of a professional soccer club and a medical worker

LISBON: Portugal tightened passenger entry requirements and mandated masks indoors to curb an upward trend in coronavirus infections as the country with one of the strongest vaccination records in Europe entered a “state of calamity” Wednesday.
The crisis declaration, Portugal’s second this year, is one step below a state of emergency and gives the government the legal authority to impose stricter measures without parliamentary approval.
Masks now are required in enclosed public spaces, and individuals must show proof of vaccination, having recovered from COVID-19 or a negative virus tests to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and hotels. Nightclubs, hospitals, nursing homes and sports venues also must require negative virus tests from visitors and patrons, including vaccinated ones.
“With the test, we feel more comfortable. We don’t leave the club thinking, ‘Do I have COVID or not?’” Sara Lopes, a 21-year-old shop worker, said as she lined up at a central Lisbon nightclub as the new requirements took effect at midnight.
“It’s a bit of a hassle to have to make appointment after appointment at the pharmacy, but it’s fine,” Lopes said.
Under the new rules, most arriving passengers must show negative test results at Portugal’s airports, seaports and land borders.
Experts believe that Portugal’s vaccination rate, which at 87 percent of over 10 million residents is one of the highest globally, has shielded the country from the infection spikes recently experienced by some other European countries.
Still, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has been rising since September. Portuguese authorities on Tuesday recorded 2,907 new cases and 15 deaths.
Authorities in Portugal have confirmed an outbreak of the new coronavirus variant, omicron, among members of a professional soccer club and a medical worker who had contact with them.


Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks

Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks
Updated 01 December 2021

Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks

Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks
  • A new agreement on pandemic preparedness and response will come into force in 2024

GENEVA: World Health Organization member states agreed Wednesday to start work on building a new international accord setting out how to handle the next global pandemic.
Countries adopted a resolution at a special meeting in Geneva, launching the process that should result in a new agreement on pandemic preparedness and response coming into force in 2024.


China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks
Updated 01 December 2021

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks
  • A number of Chinese citizens had been attacked and kidnapped over the past month in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri

BEIJING: China on Wednesday urged its citizens to leave three provinces in eastern Congo as violence intensifies in the mineral-rich region.
A posting from the Chinese Embassy in Kinshasa on the WeChat online messaging said a number of Chinese citizens had been attacked and kidnapped over the past month in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri, where several anti-government rebel groups have a presence.
It said Chinese residing in the three provinces should provide their personal details by Dec. 10 and make plans to leave for safer parts of Congo. Those in the districts of Bunia, Djugu, Beni, Rutshuru, Fizi, Uvira and Mwenga should leave immediately, it said, adding that any who do not do so “will have to bear the consequences themselves.”
“We ask that all Chinese citizens and Chinese-invested businesses in Congo please pay close attention to local conditions, increase their safety awareness and emergency preparedness, and avoid unnecessary outside travel,” the embassy said.
No details of the incidents were given, although the embassy last month reported five Chinese citizens were abducted from a mining operation in South Kivu, which borders Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
It warned a the time that the security situation in the area was “extremely complex and grim” and that there was little possibility of sending help in the event of an attack or kidnapping.
No details were given about those kidnapped, who they worked for or who was suspected of taking them.
Several armed groups including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, the Mai-Mai and the M23 regularly vie for control of eastern Congo’s natural resources.
Despite the danger, Chinese businesses have moved into Congo and other unstable African states in a quest for cobalt and other rare minerals and resources. Chinese workers have also been subject to kidnappings and attacks in Pakistan and other countries with active insurgencies.
Security was a key topic at a meeting Monday in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on Monday, between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Congolese counterpart Christophe Lutundula, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.
China’s government and ruling Communist Party “attach great importance to the safety and security of Chinese enterprises and Chinese nationals overseas and the Chinese side has been extremely concerned with the recent serious crimes of kidnappings and killings of its citizens in the DRC,” Wang said, using the acronym for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Wang urged Congo to secure the release of those kidnapped and create a “safe, secure and stable environment for bilateral cooperation.”
Xinhua quoted Lutundula as saying Congo would take “forceful measures” to investigate the crimes, free the hostages, punish the culprits severely and safeguard national security and restore stability to the country’s east.
Earlier this week, Uganda said it launched joint air and artillery strikes with Congolese forces against camps of the extremist Allied Democratic Forces rebel group in eastern Congo.
The ADF was established in the early 1990s in Uganda and later driven out by the Ugandan military into eastern Congo, where many rebel groups are able to operate because the central government has limited control there.
At least four civilians were killed less than two weeks ago in Uganda’s capital when suicide bombers detonated their explosives at two locations.
The Daesh group claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were carried out by Ugandans. Ugandan authorities blamed the ADF, which has been allied with the Daesh group since 2019.