From Zain Shauk at the Glendale (Calif.) NewsPress:
Speakers at the city’s Armenian Genocide Commemoration event Friday blasted President Obama for betraying campaign pledges to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, injecting a sense of anger into the somber ceremony.
Obama issued a statement Friday, on the 94th anniversary of the genocide, acknowledging the mass killings of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks as “atrocities” and used the Armenian phrase “Meds Yeghern,” which translates to “The Great Calamity” to describe the acts.
But as a senator and presidential candidate, Obama frequently supported efforts to recognize the mass killings using the word “genocide,” famously stating in a speech on Jan. 19, 2008, that “the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable . . . and as president, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
But in his statement, Obama danced around language that he has previously insisted should be attributed to the acts, said Zanku Armenian, president of the Armenian National Committee Glendale’s board of directors.
“He did not have the courage to use the word ‘genocide,’” said Armenian, who was in Washington to lobby support for a House of Representatives resolution calling for official recognition of the genocide.
“The irony is he used Armenian words,” he continued, adding that Armenians would be disheartened by the president’s avoidance of the term “genocide.”
The use of “genocide” to describe the events has been of critical importance to the Armenian community because the size and scale of the mass killings should be recognized and remembered just as other genocides are, said speakers at the commemoration event, which was at the Alex Theatre.
“President Obama, if you’re listening, I can’t tell you how disappointed the community is for betraying your promise,” said Councilman Ara Najarian, who was chairman of the event organizing committee.