SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The Armenian American community is waiting on the president to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
Several Bay Area counties passed resolutions this week adding to the mounting pressure for Joe Biden to make good on his campaign promise to do so.
California is home to many Armenians including Roxanne Makasdjian. Her family fled for their lives from a Turkish Village in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire soldiers began a killing spree.
They hid with the help of neighbors until the coast was clear.
“My grandmother as a young child I think she was four looked out the window and saw the townsfolk were being marched out of town and she thought her mother was amongst them. So she ran outside screaming mama and the next thing she knew the relative or neighbor that was housing them, that was hiding them basically grabbed her, pulled her into the house, and said keep quiet your mother is here we have her hidden in the backroom you get in this kitchen cabinet,” Roxanne Makasdjian said.
They later learned 1.5 million Armenians were killed in that genocide. Unfortunately, her great grandfather didn’t make it – like many he was kidnapped and killed.
Armenians were either slaughtered or driven to march to their death through the desert.
106 years later modern-day Turkey continues to deny this was a systemic plan to wipe out Christian Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians and have since put pressure on their U.S. ally to withhold outright recognition.
While pressure is mounting for President Joe Biden to fulfill his campaign promise to formally recognize the atrocities as genocide.
On Tuesday, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco county board members passed resolutions designating April 24th as ‘Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day,’ vowing to teach the historical facts in their public schools.
“The Armenian genocide and the slaughter of one and a half million innocent human beings is an undeniable fact,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said.
San Francisco Board Supervisor Aaron Peskin has made efforts for 14 years to do this and says recent hate crimes like the attack last year on KVZ Armenian School and the arson at Saint Gregory, the Illuminator Apostolic Church in San Francisco, may have inspired the board to finally act on the resolution.
“Whoever did that whether it was done by denialists or whether it was done by other parties and no one has been apprehended in that event. This is a remarkably important time for the government of San Francisco and the people of the San Francisco and the Bay Area to understand and acknowledge and celebrate not only the contributions of the Armenian American community but what they and all of us are up against. And if we don’t say it and other cities don’t say it the United States government is never going to make Turkey do it,” Peskin said.
Should Biden follow through, he’ll almost certainly face pushback from Turkey, which has successfully pressed previous presidents to sidestep the issue.
This Saturday, KRON4’s Ella Sogomonian will host the Annual Armenian Genocide Memorial on San Francisco’s highest peak – Mount Davidson.
This is the first the community will be gathering since the latest war was waged against Armenians during the pandemic by Turkey-backed Azerbaijan.
The event starts at 1 p.m.