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Armenian genocide officially recognized by United States

Biden’s statement recognizes Armenian suffering after a tumultuous year.

By Isaac Dektor, Staff Writer

Community members leave flower wreaths to honor the victims of the Armenian Genocide at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument. The Armenian Monument Council raised donations to build the monument and incorporated cone-shaped steeples, characteristic of Armenian churches. The monument was unveiled on April 12, 1968 in Bicknell Park to honor the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. Monday, May 3, 2021. Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Stephen Castaneda /The Valley Star)

President Joe Biden’s recognition on April 24 of the systematic killing and deportation of Armenians as a genocide serves as a fragment of solace for the expatriated Armenian community.

The events of 1915-1916, in which 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or died from starvation and illness due to systematic mistreatment at the hands of Ottoman forces, have been a delicate subject geopolitically due to Turkey’s position in NATO. The Armenian community has long called on the U.S. government to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, but Biden’s following through to do so has created tension abroad.

“Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” Biden said. “Of those who survived, most were forced to find new homes and new lives around the world, including in the United States.

While former presidents have addressed the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, they have deliberately not used the word genocide for fear of enraging NATO ally Turkey.

California is home to the largest Armenian population outside of Armenia, with over 200,000 living in the greater Los Angeles area according to BBC News.

San Fernando Valley native Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) emphasized the importance of the president’s statement in a press release the same day.

“Today’s recognition by President Biden and the federal government allows for us to work towards true justice for the victims, while also ensuring we pass on critical lessons to future generations,” Padilla said.

The senator signed a letter earlier this year imploring the president to officially recognize the Armenian genocide.

The president’s statement comes in the wake of the Nagorno-Karabakh war, an armed conflict between the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh allied with Armenia and Azerbaijan. The conflict was sparked by aggression on the part of Azerbaijan, who was supported by Turkey. The war ended with a ceasefire after thousands were killed.

Lilit Petrosyan began her career at Valley College as an ESL student before becoming an English tutor at the writing center. She now works as admissions and records assistant and faculty Liaison.

“I am extremely appreciative of the attention Armenian students and employees receive from the LACCD and Valley in particular,” Petrosyan said. “We especially felt the support during the recent tragic events when Armenia was attacked by Azerbaijan with the help of Turkey and hired terrorists.”

Petrosyan explained the significance of recognizing the crimes committed by the Ottoman Empire as genocide, which she said led to the deaths of 6 million Armenians, a number far greater than is officially recognized.

“These events can be taken as clear evidence that if a crime stays unrecognized and the responsible parties do not face justice, they have a temptation to repeat,” said Petrosyan. “That is what we need to take from this, the history must be recognized to avoid repetition of such crimes against humanity.”

Valley has offered webinars about Armenian culture over the past school year. Valley President Barry Gribbons, issued a statement regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh war in support of the Armenian community at the college.

“This violence is having a profound impact on our Armenian community and I want to acknowledge the trauma the fighting is causing for our students, faculty, staff and their loved ones,” Gribbons said in the statement.

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