April 24, 2010, Washington, DC - Today, President Barack Obama issued a presidential statement marking "Armenian Remembrance Day." Turkish Americans share the grief of Armenian Americans who lost their family members during those dreadful events nearly a century ago. In fact, in a 2009 letter to President Obama, signed by over 50 Turkish American associations, Turkish Americans stated that they mourn Armenian losses in those years as their mourn their own. This dual tragedy is not forgotten.
What is, however, forgotten and even denied, is the equally tragic loss of even more Muslim lives in this turbulent period of Ottoman history. The suffering of one people does not justify or negate the suffering of others, and all who lost their lives deserve to be remembered on this day of remembrance. Where does the ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Turks from the Balkans, Eastern Turkey and the Caucuses with 5 million lost and 5.5 million refugees come on the President's list of "worst atrocities of the 20th century"? Do they also deserve at least an annual presidential remembrance from him, as he dutifully makes on this occasion every year?
To recognize this Muslim suffering is not to diminish Armenian suffering, but to respect all human loss and suffering regardless of the race, ethnicity or religion of the victims, and to place the Armenian tragedy in its proper historical context. In this context, TCA supports the establishment of a joint historical commission tasked with uncovering a complete historical narrative that could pave the way for reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian people.
Today, TCA would once again like to extend its hand of friendship to the Armenian Diaspora in the US. Over the years, we have implemented programs that we believe are helping to heal the divide between Turkish Americans and Armenian Americans. This includes our scholarship program for Armenian Americans to study abroad in Turkey. It is our hope that by fostering dialogue between our communities, we can play a positive role in re-building a mutual understanding between the two nations.
TCA's statement on the issue was widely covered in the US media, including Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times, CBS News and National Public Radio.