LOS ANGELES, CA – The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) today applauded the Los Angeles Times for publishing an editorial calling on the US Government to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.
The editorial entitled “It was genocide” appeared in the March 22nd edition of the Los Angeles Times and highlighted reports that the US Ambassador to Armenia, John Marshall Evans, faced early termination of his post due to comments he made affirming the Armenian Genocide. The editorial explained that while the Armenian Genocide is a textbook example of genocide, the US Government has shied away from using the term genocide in describing the annihilation of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey due to its current-day political relations with the Turkish Government. The Los Angeles Times went on to praise countries that have passed resolutions acknowledging the genocide and expressed hope that the US Government would one day act in kind.
“We commend the LA Times for taking a principled stance on the Armenian Genocide, which is a crime against all humanity,” commented Zanku Armenian, a member of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors. “The editorial position of the LA Times joins a growing list of prominent newspapers around the country that have taken similar positions including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and many others. This serves as a major blow to Turkey’s genocide denial campaign and sends a clear message that it is time for the US Government to reaffirm the facts of the Armenian Genocide rather than persecute those who dare speak the truth.”
Armenian and ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian were quoted along with Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-29) in a Los Angeles Daily News article just one day before the Los Angeles Times editorial appeared. The Daily News article reported on Ambassador Evans’ pending recall that was first publicized by California Courier Publisher Harut Sassounian on March 9th. Congressional members like Representatives Schiff, Armenian Issues Caucus Co-chairman Frank Pallone (NJ-6) and Grace Napolitano (CA-38) have since been probing US State Department officials, including Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, for an explanation of these disturbing reports.
The controversy ensued following comments Ambassador Evans made last year. “I will today call it the Armenian Genocide,” the Ambassador said speaking in front of a public audience in 2005. “I think it is unbecoming of us, as Americans, to play word games here. I believe in calling things by their name.” Ambassador Evans also disclosed that he had consulted with a legal advisor at the State Department who had confirmed that the events of 1915 were “genocide by definition.”
Within days after his remarks and the conclusion of a speaking tour of Armenian American communities, Ambassador Evans was apparently forced to issue a statement clarifying that his references to the Armenian Genocide were his personal views and did not represent a change in US policy. He subsequently issued a correction to this statement, replacing a reference to the genocide with the word “tragedy.”
Despite the apparent trouble the Ambassador’s remarks had caused inside the State Department, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), in recognition of his honesty and commitment to principle, decided to honor Ambassador Evans with the “Christian A. Herter Award,” recognizing creative thinking and intellectual courage within the Foreign Service. Sadly, as Washington Post staff writer Glenn Kessler revealed on June 9th, AFSA withdrew its award following pressure from “very serious people from the State Department.”
ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, in a letter sent to Secretary Rice on March 10th, wrote that, “the prospect that a U.S. envoy’s posting – and possibly his career – has been cut short due to his honest and accurate description of a genocide is profoundly offensive to American values and US standing abroad – particularly in light of President Bush’s call for moral clarity in the conduct of our international affairs.”
The ANCA letter also urged Secretary Rice to respond in a timely manner to the series of written questions on this matter submitted on February 16th by Congressman Schiff during her testimony before the House International Relations Committee. Among these questions was a specific request that the Secretary assure the Committee that the Department of State has not taken – and will not take – any punitive action against Ambassador Evans for speaking out about the Armenian Genocide.
The ANCA is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.