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Nunes calls it 'Armenian Genocide,' but Trump carefully avoids that word in statement

Armenians and community members hold signs and flags while listening to speakers during the annual Armenian flag-raising ceremony to commemorate the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, outside Fresno City Hall on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
Armenians and community members hold signs and flags while listening to speakers during the annual Armenian flag-raising ceremony to commemorate the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, outside Fresno City Hall on Saturday, April 21, 2018. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

On the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Rep. Devin Nunes took time to mark the occasion and use that word to describe the massacre of more than 1 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

Here is the Tulare Republican's official statement:

"It’s been more than a century since the Ottoman Empire began the Armenian Genocide. At a time when Turkey is falling into anti-democratic darkness, including the brutal beating of President Erdogan’s critics on U.S. soil by Erdogan’s security detail, Erdogan’s continuing denial of the Armenian Genocide is an absurdity and a disgrace. In light of current developments in Turkey, it’s now more important than ever that the U.S. administration commemorate the tragic genocide of the Armenian people.”

But President Trump carefully avoided the word "genocide in his official statement marking the anniversary:

"Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century, when one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. We recall the horrific events of 1915 and grieve for the lives lost and the many who suffered.

"We also take this moment to recognize the courage of those individuals who sought to end the violence, and those who contributed to aiding survivors and rebuilding communities, including the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, who sought to end the violence and later raised funds through the Near East Relief to help the Armenian people. We note with deep respect the resilience of the Armenian people, so many of whom built new lives in the United States and have made countless contributions to our country.

"As we honor the memory of those who suffered, we also reflect on our commitment to ensure that such atrocities are not repeated. We underscore the importance of acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past as a necessary step towards creating a more tolerant future.

"On this solemn day, we stand with the Armenian people throughout the world in honoring the memory of those lost and commit to work together to build a better future. "

Trump continued a practice of recent U.S. presidents to condemn the massacres, but not to use the word genocide in describing the deaths of Armenians. President Ronald Reagan called it a genocide in a 1981 speech about the Holocaust; no U.S. president since has called it genocide.

The Turkish government vehemently opposes the use of the word genocide to describe the Armenian deaths, saying instead they occurred in the chaos of World War I. Turkey holds strategic importance to the U.S. military, which operates out of bases in that nation.

Nunes is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Tad Weber: 559-441-6491; @TadWeber
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