Over a century after the atrocities committed against the Armenian population by the Ottomans, the United States has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide.
On the 106th anniversary of the genocide, Joe Biden became the first U.S. President to declare formal acknowledgment of the massacre as a genocide.
“Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination.”
“We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated,” he stated, in a move that would inevitably create rifts with Turkey.
Biden spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday to inform him of his plans. The call, which was the first with Turkey since Biden took office, was reportedly tense.
During the massacre, many Armenians sought refuge in Lebanon. Today, there is a large community of Lebanese-Armenians who contribute greatly to Lebanon and have merged with and enriching the Lebanese culture.
During the same time, Ottomans were committing atrocities throughout their empire and against their neighbors. In Lebanon, around the same time, targeted persecution saw half the Lebanese population starve to death and a quarter flee Lebanon.
Enver Pasha, an Ottoman military officer, publicaly declared on May 19th, 1916:
“The Ottoman Empire should be cleaned up of the Armenians and the Lebanese. We have destroyed the former by the sword, we shall destroy the latter through starvation.”
Similar persecutions were seen against minorities across the empire.
The Lebanese parliament voted to recognize the Armenian genocide in 2000, making it the first in the MENA region to make the move.
Recognition of the Armenian Genocide remains a topic of controversy for many nations around the world.