The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) welcomes the decision by the United States Department of State recognizing the Chinese Government’s deliberate and systematic persecution of Xinjiang’s Uighur population as genocide.
The United States is the first country to make such a determination. It also marks the first time the United States has identified an ongoing genocide, 75 years after the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (UN Genocide Convention).
The identification and recognition of genocide is crucial to the process of atrocity prevention and redress. In light of a prior statement by the Biden campaign acknowledging China’s actions as genocide, we hope these efforts will establish a precedent for atrocity prevention throughout the world.
While we welcome this decision, we must also acknowledge that it is long overdue. The normalization of genocide denial by governments through the refusal to identify cases of genocide, in addition to the politicization of genocide recognition, has allowed for the continued perpetration of genocide throughout the world.
To this day, countless genocides – both contemporary and historic – remain unacknowledged.
Denial has often been referred to as the final stage of genocide, granting impunity to the perpetrators of atrocity crimes and providing a cover for their continued perpetration.
As an organization representing many descendants of survivors of the Armenian genocide we understand the consequences of denial well. The denial of the Armenian genocide has seen the ongoing perpetration of atrocities and genocidal violence against Armenian communities throughout the region today, most recently by the Azerbaijani government against the Armenians of Artsakh.
Other cases of contemporary genocide, such as the Myanmar government’s persecution of the Rohingya, are still referred to by euphemistic terms such as “ethnic cleansing” – another example of how denial has resulted in the failure to prevent the continuation of systematized state violence.
We hope that today’s determination by the State Department will provide an impetus for all states to uphold their obligations under the UN Genocide Convention to condemn the perpetration of genocide wherever and whenever it occurs in the world.