YEREVAN (A.W.)—President Sarkisian’s remark on the campaign trail about the term “Yeghern” has drawn harsh criticism in Armenia and the Diaspora.
Speaking at the Malatia district of Yerevan on Feb. 5, Sarkisian said, “[The] words ‘genocide’ and ‘yeghern’ are the same, and even by not pronouncing the word ‘genocide,’ the U.S. President has said everything,” reported Armenpress.
Sarkisian was referring to President Obama’s statements on Armenian Genocide commemoration day in recent years, where the latter consistently avoided the term “genocide,” employing the expression “Meds Yeghern” (Great Crime) instead.
“It’s true, we too use the expression ‘Medz Yeghern,’ but not in order to avoid the term ‘genocide,’ which is a crime against humanity accordingly to international law,” ARF Hai Tahd (Armenian Cause) Central Office director Giro Manoyan told iLur.am.
Dr. Ara Papian, director of the Modus Vivendi center in Yerevan, also criticized the President for the comment, telling iLur.am that Yeghern is not a legal term in international law. “’Medz Yeghern’ means genocide for us, but it doesn’t mean genocide to the rest of the world,” he noted.
“Perhaps the president needs a refresher course—or a tutorial—on this most critical issue, so that… he does not jeopardize the pursuit of the Armenian Cause or disrespect the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide,” wrote Asbarez English editor Ara Khachatourian, calling Sarkisian’s statement “pedestrian and irresponsible.”
“If by now the president has not understood that the word Genocide carries a distinct set of political implications, then perhaps before stomping on the campaign trail, he should pick up a dictionary,” argued Khachatourian.