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Sabtu, 24 April 2021

US President Joe Biden recognises Armenian genocide, triggering fierce rebuttals from Turkey - ABC News

On its 106th anniversary, US President Joe Biden has recognised the Armenian genocide, a historic declaration that is set to infuriate Turkey and potentially further damage ties between the NATO allies.

Warning: This story contains distressing images.

Beginning from April 24, 1915, swathes of Armenians living in the former Ottoman Empire were forcibly removed from their homes as part of mass deportations in eastern Anatolia, which is now modern Turkey.

Many were marched south through deserts towards Syria and Mesopotamia, with many killed by starvation, disease, or dehydration. Others were brutally massacred en route by Ottoman forces. 

The total death toll from the genocide remains disputed. The International Association of Genocide Scholars puts the toll at more than a million, while Armenians put the number at 1.5 million. 

A black and white image shows rows of deceased bodies pictured in a bare forest.
Victims of typhus and various other diseases, pictured in a forest near the Armenian capital of Yerevan.(

AP via Armenian Genocide Museum/PAN Photo

)

"The American people honour all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today," Mr Biden said in a statement.

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Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan welcomed the US's recognition in a letter to Mr Biden, published on his website on Saturday. 

With the US's inclusion, a total of 30 countries now recognise the Armenian genocide.

Australia is not one of them.

However, the parliaments of New South Wales and South Australia, and two local councils in Sydney, have passed motions recognising the genocide.

'Washington isn't worried whether it angers Turkey anymore'

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds his arm up as he stands in front of several larges Turkey flags
Turkey's long-serving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has steered his country further away from the US.(

AP: Presidential Press Service/Pool

)

While Mr Biden's move is symbolic and does not trigger any penalties, it breaks with decades of carefully calibrated White House statements, and instead refers to the atrocities by the Armenian term "Metz Yeghern" (The Great Evil).

For decades, measures recognising the Armenian genocide stalled in the US Congress, while presidents have refrained from calling it that, stymied by concerns about relations with Turkey, and intense lobbying against recognition from Ankara.

But in recent years, ties between the two countries have soured, as Turkey — a fellow NATO member — purchases Russian military hardware, and continues to diminish its human rights record

Mr Biden's declaration follows a non-binding resolution by the US Senate adopted unanimously in 2019 recognising the killings as genocide.

Nicholas Danforth, a non-resident fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, said it is this context that has prompted Washington's change.

"With relations already in shambles, there was nothing to stop Biden from following through," Mr Danforth said.

Turkey again claims the genocide didn't happen, in response to US

A black and white photo shows soldiers standing in ruins before a sea of skulls and bones in front of them.
Soldiers stand over skulls of victims from an Armenian village.(

AFP/Armenian Genocide Museum Institute

)

Throughout its modern history Turkey has always denied there was a systematic Ottoman campaign to annihilate Armenians, though it does accept that many Christian Armenians living in the empire were killed in clashes with local forces. 

It's something Ankara re-iterated in its denunciation of Mr Biden's statement, which it claimed was "made under the pressure of radical Armenian circles and anti-Turkey groups".

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"It is clear that the said statement does not have a scholarly and legal basis, nor is it supported by any evidence," a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement claimed. 

"This statement … will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship. We call on the US President to correct this grave mistake."

ABC/Reuters

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2021-04-24 20:08:16Z
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