Armenians marking the 103rd anniversary Tuesday of the mass killing of their forebears in Ottoman Turkey are hoping President Trump will go further than last year, and use the word “genocide” to describe the atrocities.
On April 24 last year, Trump’s statement used the Armenian phrase Meds Yeghern, which is variously translated “great evil,” “great crime” or “great calamity.”
President Obama also used the term in his later annual Apr. 24 statements – although he pledged while running for the White House to call the episode genocide – while his predecessors used words like “tragedy” or “massacres.”
Armenians and Armenian-Americans look back to President Reagan, who in a 1981 Holocaust Remembrance Day proclamation referred to “the genocide of the Armenians.”
The issue goes well beyond semantics, since the Turkish government has made it a foreign policy priority to deny that what happened a century ago constituted genocide. Genocide is legally defined as the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, accompanied by atrocities aimed at achieving that goal.