Fresno Armenians call President's decision not to say 'genocide' laughable

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This week the White House announced President Obama will not call the massacre of Armenians one hundred years ago a genocide.

It's a decision not taken lightly by many Valley Armenians.

Last year, Holy Trinity Armenian Church in downtown Fresno celebrated the 100th anniversary of their sanctuary. This year, church leaders and thousands of Valley Armenians are remembering the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

Paul Jamushian stopped by the church Wednesday morning with more "forget me not" flower pins.

"We won't forget and we will demand," Jamushian said.

Armenians are demanding recognition of the genocide, and while they say most of the world does, President Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide.

"We were very disappointed," said Vahan Gosdanian, Holy Trinity's pastor.

"Do not insult me or my community or the memory of the million and a half people that were needlessly and brutally and mercilessly slaughtered," said Marshall Moushigian, a local Armenian lawyer.

"For Obama to do what he did, it's a betrayal of trust and he is in effect farming out foreign policy to turkey," said Jamushian, a member of the Armenian National Committee of America.

Turkey has never accepted responsibility for the genocide, which left 1.5 million Armenians dead.

Obama has never used that description since taking office, mainly out of allegiance to turkey, a key U.S. partner and NATO ally.

But Father Gosdanian says it's important to remember what happened 100 years ago.

He says if we don't, it will happen again.

"It's not just for our genocide, we're speaking up for all the genocides, not just the Armenian Genocides," he said. "No matter who they are, Armenians, non-Armenians, Christians, Jews, whatever. It doesn't matter, they're all human beings."

Fresno State will unveil an Armenian Genocide monument tomorrow night, starting at 7:30 at Maple Mall.

There will be another unveiling of the newly named Armenia Street at the corner of Santa Clara and M Streets at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon.

The Fresno Commemoration/flag raising will be at 9:00 Friday morning in front of city hall.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.