SAN FRANCISCO—A resolution declaring April 24, 2011 Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day was once again adopted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 19.
“This is something that the board of supervisors has annually done, to unanimously pass this resolution to stand in solidarity with this community,” explained District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.
The purpose of the vote was no different from previous years: to educate and solidify the historical truth of the genocide.
Often recognized as the first modern genocide which occurred during the years 1915–1923, it is estimated that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Turkish government near the end of the Ottoman Empire.
The highest geographical point in San Francisco has been a beacon of solidarity for the Armenian genocide victims since 1923 when the first concrete cross was erected atop Mount Davidson.
“It’s an important issue to me because Mount Davidson, located in the middle of District 7, this is an area that is owned by the various organizations [sympathetic] to the Armenian genocide [victims],” explains Elsbernd.
California is home to the largest group of Armenian people in the United States, some of whom are descendants of the genocide survivors. This year will mark the 96th anniversary since the beginning of the eight-year-long genocide in eastern Asia.
“There is a very heavy, strong, and active Armenian population in District 7 and in San Francisco,” said Elsbernd.
The resolution explains that the Ottoman Turkish government initially targeted Armenian intellectuals, politicians, business leaders, and religious authorities in the genocide. The persecution then became well-planned and included mass executions resembling race extermination.
The resolution states, “The Ottoman authorities planned and executed the unspeakable atrocities committed against the Armenian people from 1915 through 1923, which included the torture, starvation, and murder of 1,500,000 Armenians, death marches into the Syrian desert, the forced exile of more than 500,000 innocent people, and the loss of the traditional Armenian homelands.”
The atrocity against Armenians was fist coined as genocide in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, who was a proponent of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and was also affirmed by The International Association of Genocide Scholars.
To this day, despite widespread international condemnation, the Republic of Turkey continues to deny the genocide.
The resolution goes on to explain that the Republic of Turkey suppresses freedom of speech on the topic of the genocide. With the passage of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal code in 2008, citizens can be prosecuted for speaking out about the issue. The law forbids public denigration of the Turkish Nation.
“San Francisco is proud to join the Armenian-American community in its commemoration of the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in an effort to educate others about the tragic loss of life, land, and human rights of the Armenian people and the crime of genocide committed against them,” states the resolution.