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Obama Urged To Recognize Mass Killings Of Armenians As Genocide

  • RFE/RL

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a resolution on March 18 urging President Barack Obama to recognize the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman soldiers during World War I as genocide.

The Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice resolution is backed by 40 Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

It calls for Obama to help stabilize and improve Armenian-Turkish ties "based upon the Republic of Turkey's full acknowledgment of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity."

The contested events continue to sour relations between Turkey and Armenia.

Ankara accepts that many Armenians were killed in clashes, but denies that up to 1.5 million were killed in an act of genocide -- a description used by some historians and governments.

Obama has not used the word genocide to describe the tragedy.

One of the resolution's sponsors, Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, said it was "indisputable" that Armenians "were deliberately murdered in the first genocide of the 20th Century."

Another backer, Robert Dold, a Republican from Illinois, said Washington must send a message it will not tolerate "any country that hides behind bully tactics to shroud violations of human rights."

"Denial of the Armenian Genocide undermines foundations for durable peace and security, making future atrocities more likely," said Dold.

Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California who is also Armenian-American, recounted to reporters in Washington on March 18 how Armenians were "death-marched" from their villages in large numbers.

"It's history now, but it's time for us to recognize it once and for all," Speier said.

House Speaker John Boehner has not indicated whether he will bring the latest measure to the floor, and the White House declined to comment on it.

Some 20 nations, including Russia and France, recognize the killings as genocide.

In the United States, 44 states have also branded the events as genocide.

In 2010, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted narrowly in favor to recommend the United States recognize the killings as genocide.

Turkey condemned the move, although the full House of Representatives never voted on the measure.

With reporting by AFP