A group from the Turkish-US community here in Washington protested President Joe Biden’s recognition of 1915 events as “genocide” on Saturday.
The crowd at the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on Sheridan Circle held Turkish and Azerbaijan flags and banners that read: “Let History Decide,” and “Reconciliation, Not Genocide Accusations.”
The demonstration came hours after Biden called the events of 1915 a “genocide,” breaking US presidents’ long-held tradition of refraining from using the term.
The move was strongly rejected by Turkey as “null and void.”
Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) co-Chair Gunay Evinch said Biden threw gas on the fire as opposed to bringing people together in reconciliation.
“He has chosen the narrative of the Armenian community, he has chosen to side with the Armenian community at the expense of Turkish-American community and all heritage communities should be treated equally and justly,” said Evinch.
Small business owner and a long-time member of the Turkish American community Gizem Salcigil White rejected Biden’s characterization and said the US president recognized the so-called genocide without having any joint historical and legal examination process.
“His politically driven and baseless statement cannot and will not change the historical events that occurred more than 100 years ago,” she said.
“As a community, we will stand strong against the Biden administration’s political interests, and we will continue to contribute world peace, emphasize the importance of tolerance, and work toward the reconciliation two of nations,” said White.
A group of American-Armenians were also present at the focal point of the protest. The group later marched to the Turkish Embassy, a few blocks from the residence.
Turkish stance on events of 1915
Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of these incidents as “genocide,” describing them as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia as well as international experts to tackle the issue.
In 2014, then-Prime Minister Erdogan expressed condolences to the descendants of Armenians who lost their lives in the events of 1915-AA