April 26, 2021 | 10:17am ET
System of a Down have made it a career-long mission to call attention to the Armenian Genocide that took place in the early 20th century. On Saturday (April 24th), President Biden issued a statement in recognition of the genocide on Armenian Remembrance Day, earning a thank you from the metal band.
The Armenian Genocide was a mass murder and ethnic cleansing that began in 1915 under the Ottoman Empire. The United States finally recognized the Armenian Genocide in December 2019, when Donald Trump was president, after resolutions were passed by Congress and the Senate.
However, the Trump administration caught the ire of System of a Down singer Serj Tankian over a last-minute agreement with Turkey that appeared to belittle the important cultural contributions of Armenia.
On Saturday, in honor of Armenian Remembrance Day, President Biden penned a statement that read, in part:
“Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring. Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.
Of those who survived, most were forced to find new homes and new lives around the world, including in the United States. With strength and resilience, the Armenian people survived and rebuilt their community. Over the decades Armenian immigrants have enriched the United States in countless ways, but they have never forgotten the tragic history that brought so many of their ancestors to our shores. We honor their story. We see that pain. We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”
System of a Down, whose four members are Armenian-American, shared a link to the statement on their Facebook page, writing:
“Thank you to President Joe Biden for properly recognizing the #ArmenianGenocide today. This extremely important milestone is a large step on the long road towards justice. As System Of A Down, we want to acknowledge and thank all of you who have stood with us over the years marching in the streets, signing petitions, and voicing your support to hold Turkey accountable to make amends towards the descendants of 1.5 Million Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians systematically slaughtered by its Ottoman Turkish ancestors.”
A recent documentary on Tankian titled Truth to Power chronicles his life as an activist and the band’s quest to seek recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Earlier this year, Heavy Consequence spoke with the System of a Down singer about the movie and the mission, and he told us, “The reason that part of the story is incredibly important is the reason it made me an activist. The taboo-ism of recognition of the Armenian Genocide in a well-known democracy like the U.S., as I was growing up, made me realize that there are truths out there that are kind of hidden, because of economic interests or geopolitical interests, geopolitical capital with other countries.”
System of a Down recently came together to record their first new songs in 15 years to show support and raise funds for Armenia and its neighboring state Artsakh, which recently came under attack by Azerbaijan and Turkey.