The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors added its voice Tuesday to those calling on the White House to recognize the Armenian genocide.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger recommended sending a letter to President Donald Trump.
“Now is the time to put our words into action,” Barger told her colleagues. “We need our national leaders to call what happened between 1915 and 1923 what it is, a genocide.”
She noted that Trump, like past presidents, stopped short of that designation, referring instead to “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century” when mourning the killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians.
Supervisor Hilda Solis said officials should not be “intimidated by the threats that are made by the Turkish government,” which has long denied that a genocide occurred.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were tortured and killed by the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Residents were deported en masse from Armenia and Anatolia and marched across the Syrian desert, where many died from exposure, starvation and disease.
The Turkish government acknowledges that atrocities were committed, but attributes the deaths to the harsh realities of war and disputes the number of victims.
Even without using the word genocide, Trump’s April 24th statement drew criticism from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which claimed it included “misinformation and false definitions.”
The board will also urge the county’s congressional delegates to support House Resolution 220, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, which would formally recognize the genocide.
A longtime advocate for the Armenian community, Peter Darakjian, told the board there were no local survivors left to share the horror of the genocide, now that a 101-year-old woman had died.
“History seems to repeat itself if it goes unrecognized. Genocide seems to do the same,” Darakjian said. “Enough already, after 102 years.”
Los Angeles County is home to more than 200,000 Armenians, the largest such community outside of Armenia.
— City News Service
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