Glendale News Press, CA
May 2 2009


Struggle for recognition ensues

The Armenian community vows to keep fighting for stronger words from Obama.

By Laura Drdek
Published: Last Updated Friday, May 1, 2009 10:11 PM PDT

GLENDALE ' The Armenian lobby and its supporters, disappointed over
President Obama's lack of official acknowledgment of the 1915
genocide, vowed to continue their efforts as Congress continues to
mull a resolution that would officially recognize the massacre.

Rep. Adam Schiff, who reintroduced a bipartisan resolution in March
calling on the U.S. to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide, said
Obama's April 24 statement reinforces the importance of the
resolution.

`It's all the more important given that the president did not use the
word `genocide,'' Schiff said.

`I hope that we can encourage him to speak openly and plainly about
the genocide in the future; he certainly did as senator.'

In 2007, the resolution was tabled after 24 of its 235 backers
withdrew support following then-President Bush's opposition.

Schiff said he would continue to move forward with the resolution but
would need to have more than 218 committed supporters before he would
bring the resolution to a vote.

The resolution currently has less than half that number.

The failure of Obama to recognize the killings of 1.5 million
Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 as genocide in his `Armenian
Remembrance Day' statement is being met with widespread disappointment
in Glendale, where 80,000 Armenian Americans live ' the largest
concentration in any U.S. city.

The omission of the term genocide carries significant ramifications,
said Zanku Armenian, president of the Armenian National Committee
Glendale's board of directors.

`By avoiding the term genocide, he empowered those elements within the
government who are denying the Armenian genocide,' he said.

`He put our country's power behind the wrong side of that equation.

`I believe that the final safe haven for genocide denial has
unfortunately become the United States.'

Touting a bevy of reasons as to why Obama opted to eschew the term '
such as military, political and economic considerations ' Armenian
said the community is reinvigorated to redouble its efforts to attain
Obama's support as president.

`It is the beginning of undermining the credibility of his
presidency,' Armenian said.

As a presidential candidate and senator, Obama made it clear that the
term `genocide' was `not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point
of view.'

`The community is very disappointed in him for not keeping his
campaign promise and not remaining consistent to call on Turkey to
recognize the genocide,' Councilman Ara Najarian said.

`He definitely waffled on his promise.

`Chalk up his remarks to campaign rhetoric.'