Statement by Dr James Smith CBE, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust:

“Today, on the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide, staff and supporters of the Aegis Trust around the World remember and mourn with the survivors and all who lost so many loved ones during the slaughter in which the Young Turk regime systematically planned and executed the deportation and mass murder of some 1.5 million Armenians living within the Ottoman Empire, together with hundreds of thousands of Assyrians and other Christian minorities.

“We commend Germany’s President Joachim Gauck for his historic statement recognising both the Armenian Genocide and Germany’s role as a military ally of the Ottoman government. We also commend Pope Francis, and all other World leaders and nations who have had the courage to acknowledge the truth. Just because the term ‘genocide’ was not coined by Raphael Lemkin until 1943 and was not criminalised under international law until 1948 does not mean that it does not apply to preceding instances of the crime. It is common knowledge that Lemkin was inspired to define and outlaw precisely the widespread and systematic extermination of a people for which the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide enjoyed impunity at the time.

“Denial is the final stage of genocide. Refusal to acknowledge the crime adds to the pain of the survivors, and the deep hurt felt by surviving generations. It also contributes to a climate of impunity which encourages existing and would-be perpetrators of mass atrocities, who apply the lessons of history to the destruction rather than the saving of human life.

“We therefore urge the present Government of Turkey, the UN General Assembly, all media organisations and all Governments around the World which have not yet done so, simply to recognise and accept the historic fact of the Armenian Genocide for what it is.

“In 1918, former US President Theodore Roosevelt described it as “the greatest crime of the war,” stating, “the failure to deal radically with the Turkish horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense”.

“The World failed to bring justice for the Armenian Genocide, but Roosevelt’s words ring as true today as they did then. One hundred years on, the rest of the World should follow the German President’s example. It’s time to accept the truth.”