Armenian Assembly of America
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Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.aaainc.org

PRESS RELEASE
April 24, 2008
Contact: Michael Zachariades
Email: [email protected]


THE ARMENIAN ASSEMBLY OF AMERICA RESPONDS TO PRESIDENT BUSH'S APRIL 24
ARMENIAN GENOCIDE STATEMENT

Washington, DC - In 2000, then presidential candidate Governor George W.
Bush stated that if elected President, he would properly recognize the
Armenian Genocide. In his pledge, Bush stated that "the Armenians were
subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and commands
all decent people to remember and acknowledge the facts and lessons of
an awful crime in a century of bloody crimes against humanity."

Eight years later, his 2008 Presidential statement again provides a
dictionary definition of genocide, but the resistance in using the term
genocide not only fails to complete George W. Bush's promise, but more
importantly fails to promote the professed goal of preventing genocide.
This year's statement actually represents a subtle step back from prior
April 24 statements.

April 24 is a day of mourning and rededication for Armenians, their
friends and for all people concerned with eliminating the scourge of
genocide. This is what April 24 signifies.

In his final April 24 statement, President Bush missed the mark, which
may account for the ongoing nature and escalation of threats of genocide
around the world. Today's statement backtracks from his prior indirect
acknowledgements of the Armenian Genocide. For example, in 2005 and
2006, Bush recognized the Armenian Genocide indirectly by his reference
to the findings of the International Center for Transitional Justice
(ICTJ).

In the face of Turkish demands again this year, President Bush omitted
the findings by the ICTJ. This year's statement also continues to ignore
President Reagan's 1981 proclamation that affirms the Armenian Genocide,
which still stands as U.S. recognition and was confirmed by the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. These two missteps by
this Administration discount the United States' proud and dignified
record during the time of the Armenian Genocide, as well as most
Americans and a majority of States today.

In addition, Turkish pressure was brought to bear on House Resolution
106, which called on the President to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Turkey's ongoing denial has also created an atmosphere of intolerance,
which led to the tragic assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist
Hrant Dink, by a Turkish nationalist. Turkey's long term interests would
be better served by coming to grips with its genocidal past, rather than
fining and jailing those who speak the truth about the Armenian
Genocide. Hrant Dink was recently inducted into the Journalists Memorial
in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The event was attended by his widow,
Rakel Dink, along with representatives of the Armenian Assembly.

Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of
Greater Boston Nancy K. Kaufman said in a recent commemoration speech on
April 18, that "as a way of not letting the Armenian Genocide be
forgotten, I would like to bear witness - to testify, if you will - to
that history," adding that "it is particularly important for us, as
Jews, to speak out in support of your community's efforts to fight
denial."
Ironically, this year's statement comes against the backdrop of rapid
progress and development since May 2007, of the Armenian Genocide Museum
of America. The museum is located steps away from the White House and
will stand as a permanent memorial and testament for all who lost their
lives in the Armenian Genocide. It will also serve as a learning center
to prevent future genocides.

While Bush's statement also notes the Nagorno Karabakh peace process, it
does not address the failure to achieve a just peace, nor does it
address the ongoing military escalation by Azerbaijan against the
Armenians there, who also faced a campaign of ethnic cleansing. This
too stands as a stark reminder that the lessons of the Armenian Genocide
cannot be forgotten.

No one questions President Bush's sincerity in mourning the tremendous
loss Armenians and the world suffered as a result of the Armenian
Genocide, and his use of the dictionary definition is better than
ignoring it; nevertheless, it is profoundly disappointing that he failed
to keep his word, of which the consequences are real.

As Armenia's President Serge Sarkisian stated today, there is no room
for denial of the Armenian Genocide and that Armenian Statehood is of
exceptional importance. No Armenian or person of goodwill should
disagree with these fundamental principles. Unfortunately, today's
White House statement fell short.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly is the largest
Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding
and awareness of Armenian issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt
membership organization.
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NR#2008-045

Editor's Note: President Bush's 2008 statement is reproduced below and
this, as well as his prior statements, can be found on the Armenian
National Institute's Website (www.armenian-genocide.org)


THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
________________________________________ ___________________
For Immediate Release April 24, 2008
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Armenian Remembrance Day

On this day of remembrance, we honor the memory of the victims of one of
the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, the mass killings and forced
exile of as many as 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the Ottoman
Empire. I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in
commemorating this tragedy and mourning the loss of so many innocent
lives.
As we reflect on this epic human tragedy, we must resolve to redouble
our efforts to promote peace, tolerance, and respect for the dignity of
human life. The Armenian people's unalterable determination to triumph
over tragedy and flourish is a testament to their strength of character
and spirit. We are grateful for the many contributions Americans of
Armenian heritage have made to our Nation.
We welcome the efforts by individuals in Armenia and Turkey to foster
reconciliation and peace, and support joint efforts for an open
examination of the past in search of a shared understanding of these
tragic events. We look forward to the realization of a fully normalized
Armenia-Turkey relationship.
The United States is committed to a strong relationship with Armenia
based on shared values. We call on the Government of Armenia to take
decisive steps to promote democracy, and will continue our support for
Armenia to this end. We remain committed to serving as an honest broker
in pursuit of a lasting and peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict.
On this solemn day of remembrance, Laura and I express our deepest
condolences to Armenian people around the world.