asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will include the Armenian massacre of 1915–16 in the commemorations proposed for the Holocaust Memorial day to be observed on 27 January 2001; and if not, why not. [HL114]
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mike O'Brien) set out the Government's position in reply to a question in another place on 30 November.Holocaust Memorial Day is focused on learning the lessons of the Holocaust and other more recent atrocities that raise similar issues. We took a conscious decision to focus on events around the Holocaust and thereafter, although we did examine requests to consider the atrocities and other events that preceded the Holocaust. Examples include the Crusades, slavery, colonialism, the victims of Stalin and the Boer War. It is always difficult to draw a line and wherever it is drawn it runs the risk of being misinterpreted.
A particular focus on events around the period 1939–45 and thereafter should not be seen as failing to acknowledge, sympathise and respect the concerns about prior events.
The massacres of Armenians in 1915–16 were an appalling tragedy condemned by the government of the day and now. We understand the strength of feeling about this terrible period and extend our sympathies to the descendants of the victims.
The Government's decision to give a particular focus to Holocaust Memorial Day does not prevent recollection by the Armenian community of these appalling events. Others may also seek to highlight other atrocities.