INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It took more than 100 years but for the first time a sitting U.S. president has called the “1915 Events” that claimed over a million Armenian lives “genocide.”
Armenians around the United States this weekend are recognizing the 106th Remembrance Day, recognizing the years where the Ottoman Empire, now modern-day Turkey, is accused of conducting mass killings and the deportations of Christian minorities.
The Indiana Armenian community said President Joe Biden’s words on Saturday are another step toward reconciliation.
For 106 years, Armenians around the country have marked a solemn day in April, a day to remember the millions of lives lost from 1915-1917.
“This is something very painful for Armenians and other Christian minorities as well., and we would like to see that its recognized,” said Seda Arzumanyan, co-chair of the Armenian National Committee of Indiana.
During the mid 1910s, history shows the Ottoman Empire began a series of systematic killings and deportations in regions with a Christian minority. Of those who weren’t killed, many migrated to other countries including the United States.
Liza Babayan, another co-chair of the Armenian Committee of Indiana, said, “I’ve heard a lot of people say I’ve never heard about this, and its kind of painful because it was truly the first genocide of the 20th century.”
Even now instead of calling the killing “genocide,” Turkish leaders tweeted in reference to the incident as the “1915 events.” It’s a stand American leaders also have taken until Biden’s statement Saturday.
“Hearing President Biden say the word ‘genocide’ used toward the atrocities that were committed toward Armenians and other minorities Christian minorities is important,” Babayan said.
On Friday, Indianapolis-area Armenians came together to recognize the day at an event in Westfield. That said it is important that the United States take a lead as it’s a leading superpower that promotes human rights and values.
“And I’m happy that finally the U.S. president spoke about the truth,” Arzumanyan said.
Armenia faces unrest even today. Back in September, a 44-day war started; it claimed more Armenia lives. Armenians now living in Indiana said that event felt like an extension of what their elders experienced more than 100 years ago.