Trump commemorates Armenians ‘massacred’ by Ottomans in WWI
In a statement issued on the 102nd anniversary of the massacre on Monday, Trump commemorated "one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century."
"Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire," he said. "I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in mourning the loss of innocent lives and the suffering endured by so many."
The remarks were made as thousands of Armenian-Americans had gathered to remember the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day at Times Square in New York City and other locations in major cities across the States, waving the tricolor flags of Armenia and paying homage to the victims.
We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again, Trump noted. We welcome the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future.
April 24 marks the date when hundreds of Armenians were arrested in the then-Ottoman capital of Constantinople in 1915 for allegedly collaborating with the enemies of the Turks. A process of mass killings then began.
Commemorations of the event have been held by Armenians since the 1920s.
Trump's comments irk Turkey
Trump's language on Monday was similar to that of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and other US administration heads who were concerned with upsetting Turkey as a US ally in the Middle East.
The former US president had promised to recognize the killings as genocide but failed to follow through during his eight-year tenure.
In reaction to the latest remarks by the businessman-turned-politician, the Turkish Foreign Ministry claimed that Trump's comments on the remembrance day were misinformation and false definitions.
We expect from the new US administration not to accredit the one-sided historical narrative of these circles which are known for their tendency to violence and hate speech and to adopt an approach which will take into consideration the sufferings of all sides, it said.
Amid sharp Turkish criticism for the remarks, the US State Department noted that Trump, in fact, had made no mention of genocide.
The [Trump] statement that was put out is consistent with the statements that have been put out for at least several of the past administrations, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer told a briefing in Washington.
I think if you look back to the language that President Obama, President Bush have used, the language the President used is consistent with all of that, Spicer added.
Huge rallies are annually held in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, with the demonstrators burning the Turkish flag in protest against the role of the Ottoman Turks in the incidents.
The occasion often sparks political tensions between Armenia and Turkey, which vehemently opposes the description of the massacre as genocide.
Armenia claims that up to 1.5 million of its people were killed at the time, and demands that the incident be recorded in books and documents as genocide.
Source: Al Alam