WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a written response to a letter of protest from the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), refrained from again mischaracterizing the Armenian Genocide as a “matter for historical debate,” but stopped far short of properly characterizing this atrocity as a crime, much less keeping the pledges that both she and President Obama have made to fully and formally recognize this clear case of genocide.
“While we value the willingness of Secretary Clinton to engage with Armenian American voters during this political season, and certainly take note of the fact that she has refrained from repeating her recent highly offensive comments directly calling into question the Armenian Genocide, we remain deeply troubled by her misguided efforts to downgrade an international crime of genocide to a simple bilateral conflict,” said ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian. “This is the Turkish government’s false and immoral narrative, fabricated by Ankara and its allies to somehow defer the day when the Turkish state and society will – voluntarily or not – face the inevitable moral and material responsibilities for their crimes.”
The ANCA – Clinton exchange was precipitated by a factually inaccurate description, made by the Secretary during a January 26, 2012, publicly broadcast town hall meeting for State Department employees. At this event, in response to a question regarding the Administration’s refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide, she stated: “this has always been viewed, and I think properly so, as a matter of historical debate.”
On February 9th, the ANCA sent a six-page letter featuring ten direct questions to the Secretary about this and prior Administrations’ century long failed policy of attempting to appease Ankara by compromising America’s stand on a fundamental issue of human rights. In that letter, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian explained that: “Honest and open responses to these questions, in addition to bringing a badly needed measure of transparency to American policy on the Armenian Genocide, would also serve as a meaningful foundation for a reasoned discourse among government and civil society stakeholders about ending the era of the United States’ complicity in Turkey’s denials.” He added that: “More broadly, full and formal recognition of this crime – representing, as it would, a very public rejection of Ankara’s efforts to impose a gag-rule on America – would represent a meaningful step toward stopping the worldwide cycle of genocide that continues to plague humanity.”
In her March 1st response, Secretary Clinton noted that in 2011, “President Obama memorialized the 1.5 million Armenians who, in 1915, were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, resulting in one of the worst atrocities of the twentieth century.” She went on to cite her visit to Armenia’s Genocide memorial, Tsitzernagapert, “as a sign of respect for those who lost their lives during this tragedy.” The Secretary then, abdicating both America’s and the international community’s moral and legal responsibilities, sought to place the onus solely on Turkey and Armenia “to work together to address their shared history,” side-stepping repeated pledges, in 2008 and prior, by President Obama, Vice-President Biden and Secretary Clinton, herself, calling for full and formal U.S. affirmation and commemoration of this crime.
Secretary Clinton was equally evasive in responding to questions from Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.304) lead cosponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), during her testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations last week. Rep. Schiff asked “is there any question that you have that the facts of that tragic period between 1915 and 1923 constitute genocide? Do you have any different view on the subject now than you did as a state – as a U.S. Senator?”
Secretary Clinton resorted to euphemisms such as “terrible events,” and “one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century,” stopping short of her clear statements as Senator in 2008, when she affirmed that, “the horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide.” Video of the exchange between Rep. Schiff and Secretary Clinton has been viewed over 4,000 times and is posted on the ANCA YouTube page.
Prior to her testimony, over 60 Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary Clinton, asking her to renounce her recent public mischaracterization of the Armenian Genocide. In that letter, Members stated that the “historically inaccurate description of the Armenian Genocide as an open question, in addition to the offense it represents to Armenian Americans and other victims of genocide, provides American encouragement to the Republic of Turkey in its shameful campaign of denial.”
Click here for the full text of the ANCA’s February 9th letter to Secretary Clinton.
The full text of Secretary Clinton’s March 1st response is provided below.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE
Mr. Kenneth V. Hachikian
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Dear Mr. Hachikian:
Thank you for your recent letter regarding my remarks during the January 26 State Department Town Hall meeting.
The issue you raise is a serious one. On April 24,2011, President Obama memorialized the 1.5 million Armenians who, in 1915, were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, resulting in one of the worst atrocities of the twentieth century. During my visit to Armenia in 2010, I visited the memorial at Tsitsernakaberd as a sign of respect for those who lost their lives during this tragedy. In his statement, the President also noted “History teaches us that our nations are stronger and our cause is more just when we appropriately recognize painful pasts and work to rebuild bridges of understanding towards a better tomorrow.” In support of the President’s policy, I continue to urge Armenia and Turkey to work together to address their shared history. Only by working together to address these horrific events can they achieve a full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts.
In addition to my ongoing dialogue with Armenian and Turkish officials, the United States will continue to support the courageous steps taken by individuals in Armenia and Turkey to foster a dialogue that acknowledges the history they share in common as part of efforts to move forward. It is my belief that their efforts are laying the foundation for a more prosperous and peaceful future for the peoples of both countries and the region as a whole.
Hillary Rodham Clinton