Obama Marks Anniversary of 'Atrocities' against Armeniansإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday commemorated the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, calling for "a full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts" of the "brutal" killings.
While denouncing the massacre of 97 years ago as "one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century," Obama did not use the term "genocide," but he implicitly called for Turkey to acknowledge its role.
"I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915. My view of that history has not changed," the president said in a White House statement issued on Armenian Remembrance Day.
"A full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts is in all of our interests. Moving forward with the future cannot be done without reckoning with the facts of the past," he said.
The White House statement came as thousands of Armenians staged a procession to a hilltop memorial above the capital Yerevan to mark the anniversary.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million people were killed during World War I as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, a claim supported by several other countries.
Turkey strongly denies the genocide allegations, saying 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.
Obama said the anniversary should "honor the memory of the 1.5 million Armenians who were brutally massacred or marched to their deaths in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire."
"As we reflect on the unspeakable suffering that took place 97 years ago, we join millions who do the same across the globe and here in America, where it is solemnly commemorated by our states, institutions, communities, and families," the U.S. leader said.
"Through our words and our deeds, it is our obligation to keep the flame of memory of those who perished burning bright and to ensure that such dark chapters of history are never repeated," the White House statement added.