UN Marks International Day for Dignity of Victims of the Crime of Genocide
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s remembrance service last week for Holocaust survivor, author, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and human rights activist Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power expressed concern about the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Power, America’s second highest ranked diplomat, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote about U.S. response to the Genocide prior to taking office. Referring to Elie Wiesel’s book titled Night, Power said: “Indeed, arguably no single work did so much to puncture the silence that had previously enveloped survivors, and bring what happened in the Night out into the light, for all to see. And yet. Injustice was still all around. Genocide denial against the Armenians, the horrors of his lifetime – Pol Pot, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Syria, in his later years. He lived to see more and more people bear witness to unspeakable atrocities, but he also saw indifference remained too widespread.”
Mainstream media carried reports earlier this week that President Obama’s UN envoy cited the Armenian Genocide at the Wiesel tribute, asking the question “Has the Obama administration quietly recognized the World War I-era killing of Armenians as genocide?” The story was reported by the Associated Press (AP), and was picked up by other news sources including the Washington Post, New York Times, McClatchyDC, ABC News, Yahoo News, and more.
“I have great respect for Samantha Power as a scholar and publicist, and was encouraged that she has condemned the denial of the Armenian Genocide,” stated former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, who acknowledged the Armenian Genocide while giving a speech at an event in 2005 in California, and was subsequently recalled as a result. Earlier this year, Ambassador Evans’s book, “Truth Held Hostage,” was published and debuted in Los Angeles.
Today marks the United Nations International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime, initiated by Armenia in 2015 and based on the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer and Holocaust survivor who coined the term genocide, repeatedly cited the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust as prototypes for the crime of genocide. Lemkin worked tirelessly toward the adoption of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which the United States ratified in 1988.
“We welcome and support the efforts of the international community and of the member states of the United Nations to advance the agenda of prevention of future genocides, including by way of commemorating the victims of this heinous crime and honoring their dignity,” stated Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Nations and one of the main panelists of today’s commemoration event at the UN.
“December 9 is a reminder of our collective guilt for past inaction. December 9 bears a function of raising awareness and promoting education about the dangers of genocide, about the Convention, its goals and purposes. December 9 is a platform to advance and promote our collective dialogue on the moral and political imperative to consistently elaborate a strong and effective national and international system of prevention…We cannot possibly diverge from our commitment to prevent lest we forget that we are duty bound before the victims and before our collective conscience,” he continued.
“As the United Nations commemorates the dignity of the victims of the crime of genocide, we stand united in our resolve to prevent future genocides,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “On this day, the Assembly also reiterates Power’s warning about the danger of genocide denial, and calls attention to the just published report on the atrocities committed by Azerbaijan during the April 2016 war,” Ardouny added.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.