Local Armenian community grateful after President Biden recognizes the genocide in 1915

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — An announcement by President Joe Biden is a monumental one for the Armenian community in Utah and around the world.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were systematically killed and deported during the Ottoman Empire, but no U.S. president had ever called it genocide until Saturday.

Roughly 100 Armenians gathered at the Salt Lake City and County Building in celebration and triumph, many thanking President Biden for recognizing the Armenian genocide. However, they know there might be backlash with this.

The United States and Turkey are both a part of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Turkey is where much of the Ottoman Empire used to exist.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenian people used to live in the Ottoman Empire until they were forcibly removed and many died from starvation, disease, and dehydration. Many were also massacred during the mass deportation.

ABC4 spoke with the Utah Chair of the Armenian Assembly of America, Narine Sarkissian.

Sarkissian tells ABC4, this recognition from President Biden represents a meaningful step in the right direction. She is proud of the U.S. for no longer being a bystander and hopes Turkey will apologize for the genocide.

“When a crime is committed it has to be acknowledged and therefore it has to be the punishment that fits the crime,” shares Narine Sarkissian. “An apology for the crime has to be made.”

President Biden released a statement earlier Saturday.

It said in part quote, “We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”

Several members of the Armenian community we spoke to said they’re most proud of this decision for how it shapes their kids’ lives.

They said they no longer have to live a lie and can explain to their kids the U.S. has recognized the Armenian genocide.

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