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USCIRF Commemorates the Centennial Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

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Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today solemnly marks the 100 year anniversary of the tragic killing of over one million Armenians in what is now modern-day Turkey. USCIRF recognizes the profound significance of this day and the deep wounds it continues to evoke for the Armenian people, and the other religious and ethnic communities who were victims of the horrible events of 1915.

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government advisory commission that issues reports, recommendations, and statements independent of the executive branch.

“During World War I, in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish forces motivated by extreme nationalist fervor systematically killed and deported Armenians, Greek Orthodox Christians, Assyrian Christians, and others,” said USCIRF Vice Chair, James J. Zogby.

Historians, religious leaders, and many governments recognize that well over one million people were killed or died. Most recently, during a Sunday mass commemorating the anniversary, Pope Francis said that the 1915 events were “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

“Remembering and acknowledging the terrible evil that took place 100 years ago is especially important given the crimes against humanity – including acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing and religiously-motivated violence – that are taking place today in many parts of the world, especially in Syria and Iraq. On this day, the United States government and all like-minded countries that believe in the fundamental importance of human rights and religious freedom should state publicly and clearly that perpetrators of such heinous crimes will be held accountable,” stated USCIRF Vice Chair, Robert P. George.

“Our hope is that on this day individuals, religious and ethnic communities, and governments around the world will reflect deeply on this dark chapter in world history. Without open acknowledgement that these events took place and their significance, a new sense of mutual reconciliation and collaboration will not emerge,” said USCIRF Chair, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett.

USCIRF, an independent U.S. government commission, was created to monitor religious freedom violations abroad, and provide policy recommendations to the United States government on ways international religious freedom can be best protected, promoted, and improved through U.S. foreign policy. USCIRF’s 2015 Annual Report will be released on April 30th and will be found at

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