After Rep. Adam Schiff reported Wednesday that the White House will be exhibiting the Armenian Orphan Rug in November, a senior Obama Administration official told Asbarez in an email that the “President and other senior Administration officials have repeatedly acknowledged as historical fact and mourned the fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, and stated that a full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in our all interests, including Turkey’s, Armenia’s, and America’s.”
“One of the principles that has guided the Administration’s work in this area, and in atrocity prevention more broadly, has been that nations grow strong by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of their pasts, and that doing so is essential to building a foundation for a more just and more tolerant future,” added the official.
This clarification by the White House was made to Asbarez after an initial statement that merely stated that the rug “is a reminder of the close relationship between the people of Armenia and the United States,” and that it was presented to US President Calvin Coolidge “in recognition of the humanitarian assistance rendered by the American people to displaced Armenian orphans,” without emphasizing how the orphans came to be and failing, once again, to characterize the events of 1915 to 1923 as Genocide.
The announcement about the November exhibit rightfully prompted the Armenian National Committee of America to call on President Obama to characterize the rug in its proper manner.
“If President Obama’s decision to publicly exhibit the Armenian Orphan Rug is to represent a symbol of real progress, the White House Visitor Center Exhibit will clearly and unequivocally reference the still unpunished crime that led to its creation – the Armenian Genocide,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America.
“If, on the other hand, the exhibit purposefully evades the rug’s proper characterization, the President’s decision to display this artwork will be seen as yet another cynical substitute for the very progress he promised the American people and will be further evidence of his continued enforcement of Turkey’s gag-rule on speaking truthfully regarding the Armenian Genocide,” added Hamparian.
The Ghazi Rug, which is also known as the Armenian Orphan Rug, was a labor of love by orphans who were rescued from the Armenian Genocide by American aid workers as part of the Near East Relief campaign that was mandated by the US President and legislated by Congress in 1915 and 1916 respectively. The entire US population was mobilized to assist the Armenians of the Near East and as a result millions of Armenians were rescued from the Genocide, among them hundreds of thousands of orphans.