Persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern applauded President Joe Biden for being the first president since Ronald Reagan to formally recognize the anniversary of the 1915 mass killings of Armenian Christians as genocide.
"President Biden is the only president since Ronald Reagan to refer to this mass atrocity perpetuated by Ottoman-era Turkish authorities against Armenian Christians as a genocide," persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern said in a statement.
Previous presidents have not used the word "genocide" when referring to the 1915 event, the ICC said, because of "pressure from the Turkish government.
"The Turkish government has failed to take responsibility and has actively denied their role in this, allowing them to pursue genocidal policies against Armenians," the ICC said.
In his statement this weekend, Biden said, "The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated."
In 1915, the Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey) began to massacre its Armenian Christian minority, resulting in 1.5 million deaths, according to The Christian Post.
Alex Hinton, director of Rutgers University's Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, called the recognition "absolutely momentous for the victims."
"But I think more broadly, it's something that's momentous for all of us, you know, in terms of human rights. One of the principles that guides us and guides our countries, it's centered around respect for the dignity of the person."
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom also released a statement celebrating Biden's decision.
"As we remember and commemorate the many lives lost, we also recognize the tireless efforts of survivors, their descendants, and so many others to finally and firmly place the United States on the right side of that terrible history," USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin said.
Officials in Turkey, however, also released a statement, saying the country did not need to apologize.
"We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice. We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism," tweeted Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.