Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day Articles
Hurriyet Daily News
Turks in Istanbul commemorate 1915
killings of Armenians
ISTANBUL — Agence France-Presse
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Human rights activists and artists in Istanbul commemorated the 1915-17
by Ottoman Turks for the first time Saturday, breaking with a near century-old
The Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association, or İHD, organized a rally
Under the slogan "Never Again" and the watchful eye of the police, demonstrators
Police kept at bay a group of counter-demonstrators including former diplomats
Forty-two Turkish diplomats were killed by members of the extremist Armenian
Turkish intellectuals and artists signed a petition calling on "those who feel the
Avoiding an open confrontation over the term genocide —which the Turkish
But despite this precaution, organizers were afraid of a backlash from those who
"All precautionary measures have been taken but it's always possible that someone
The unprecedented commemoration came as tens of thousands of Armenians
The dispute about the genocide label has poisoned relations between the two
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were systematically killed between
Turkey -- Turks hold up pictures of Armenian intellectuals rounded up
and executed in 1915 during a public commemoration in Istanbul,
About 100 Turks rallied in Istanbul on Saturday in a first-ever public
commemoration of the World War One-era mass killings and deportations
of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey that was organized by a local human
The demonstrators gathered on the steps of the Haydarpasa train
station from where hundreds of Armenian intellectuals arrested on
April 24, 1915 were deported and subsequently executed. They chanted
`Never Again!' and carried black-and-white pictures of the most
prominent of the deportees.
`The events of 1915 must not be repeated,' Eren Keskin, a human rights
campaigner, said, addressing the small crowd. `We have gathered here
to say no to genocide.'
Turkish authorities did not try to impede the landmark gathering
organized by the Turkish Human Rights Association. Scores of police
were deployed around the station to prevent possible incidents between
its participants and a group of counter-demonstrators protesting
Police stepped in when an elderly man condemned the unprecedented
commemoration. `Who allowed you to gather here? Who says that
Armenians were massacred? That is not true?' he shouted before behind
dragged away from the scene.
A similar gathering was due to take place in Istanbul's central Taksim
Square later in the day. Its organizers, a group of prominent
intellectuals and artists, urged fellow Turks to `pay tribute to the
victims of 1915' in an online petition circulated earlier this
week. Hundreds of people have signed the appeal that stops short of
calling the massacres a genocide and uses the Armenian phrase `Great
Tens of thousands of Turks signed a similar online petition that was
initiated by the same public figures in December 2008. It offered
Armenians a personal apology and called for the Turkish government to
acknowledge the killings.
Armenia Marks Genocide Anniversary
Hundreds of thousands of people silently marched to a hilltop memorial
in Yerevan on Saturday in an annual remembrance of more than one
million fellow Armenians slaughtered by Ottoman Turks during World War
One in what many historians consider a genocide.
An incessant stream of people passed through the Tsitsernakabert
memorial to the genocide victims throughout the day, laying flowers by
its eternal fire surrounded by twelve inward-bending basalt columns.
The day-long procession began in the morning after a traditional
prayer service held there by the supreme head of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, in the presence of President
Serzh Sarkisian and other top state officials. Garegin presided over a
special liturgy in memory of the dead at the main church cathedral in
Echmiadzin shortly afterwards.
Execution of Armenians in the Constantinople, June 1915
April 24 marks the 95th anniversary of the arrest of more than 250
Armenian political leaders, intellectuals and artists in
Constantinople ordered by the government of the Ottoman Empire. Their
subsequent executions were followed by mass killings and deportations
of Armenians in what is now eastern Turkey and other parts of the
crumbling empire. Many of the estimated 1.5 million victims lost their
lives in so-called death marches to the Syrian desert.
The stark memorial perched on Tsitsernakabert Hill overlooking central
Yerevan is the focal point of the annual genocide commemorations in
Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora communities around the world.
In a written address to the nation issued on the occasion, President
Serzh Sarkisian said the 1915-1918 killings, which Armenians also call
Mets Yeghern, or Great Calamity, `had no precedents in the history of
not only the Armenian people but the entire world.'
`The Ottoman Empire's state machine carried out a plan to annihilate
the Armenians through all of its structures that acted in accordance
with explicit orders,' he said. `This day of 1915 became a
watershed. The millennia-long history of the Armenian people was cut
and divided into two parts: before and after the watershed.'
Against all odds, continued Sarkisian, the Armenians have managed to
`return to the international political arena' and are now determined
to prevent `a repeat of such crimes.'
Armenia -- A demonstrator sets fire to a Turkish flag as he attends a
torch-bearing march marking the anniversary of the 1915 mass killings
of Armenians in Ottoman Empire, in Yerevan, 23Apr2010
The Armenian leader also thanked foreign backers of the decades-long
Armenian campaign for international recognition of the
genocide. `There is no alternative to the inevitable expansion of this
process,' he said, reaffirming his government's support for the drive.
Successive Turkish governments have denied a planned government effort
to exterminate the Ottoman Empire's Armenian population. They have
claimed that Ottoman Armenians died in much smaller numbers and
because of siding with invading Russian troops. Accordingly, they have
strongly condemned foreign governments and parliaments recognizing the
massacres as genocide.
A Turkish flag was publicly burned in Yerevan on Friday evening during
a torch-bearing march to the genocide memorial organized by the youth
wing of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and
attended by several thousand young people.
Obama Again Avoids `G-Word' In Armenian Remembrance Message
Backtracking on a campaign pledge, U.S. President Barack Obama on
Saturday again declined to describe the 1915 massacres of Armenians in
Ottoman Turkey as genocide as he honored the victims of `one of the
worst atrocities of the 20th century.' (UPDATED)
As was the case in April 2009, Obama used instead the Armenian phrase
Meds Yeghern, or Great Calamity, to mark the 95th anniversary of the
start of the mass killings and deportations. `In that dark moment of
history, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their
death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire,' he said. `Today is a
day to reflect upon and draw lessons from these terrible events.'
`The Meds Yeghern is a devastating chapter in the history of the
Armenian people, and we must keep its memory alive in honor of those
who were murdered and so that we do not repeat the grave mistakes of
the past,' he added.
Obama at the same time again made clear that he stands by his
statements on the subject issued during the 2008 U.S. presidential
race. `I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in
1915, and my view of that history has not changed,' he said.
In a January 2008 statement to the Armenian community in the United
States, Obama, then a presidential candidate, called the Armenian
genocide `a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body
of historical evidence.' `America deserves a leader who speaks
truthfully about the Armenian genocide and responds forcefully to all
genocides. I intend to be that president,' he said at the time.
Obama backpedaled on that pledge after taking office, anxious not to
antagonize Turkey, a key U.S. ally. In his April 2009 statement on
Armenian Remembrance Day, Obama implicitly cited the need not to
undermine the U.S.-backed rapprochement between Armenia and
Turkey. The process culminated in the signing of Turkish-Armenian
normalization agreements in Zurich last October.
Obama's latest message contains no explicit references to the
normalization process that has stalled because of Ankara's refusal to
unconditionally normalize ties with Yerevan. It only voices support
for continued historical dialogue between Armenian and Turkish
`I salute the Turks who saved Armenians in 1915 and am encouraged by
the dialogue among Turks and Armenians, and within Turkey itself,
regarding this painful history,' Obama said. `Together, the Turkish
and Armenian people will be stronger as they acknowledge their common
history and recognize their common humanity.'
The current and previous U.S. administrations have strongly encouraged
and even sponsored Turkish-Armenian contacts at various levels. The
U.S. State Department was, for example, behind the establishment in
2001 of the non-governmental Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation
TARC called for the unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian
relations before being disbanded in 2004. It is also famous for
commissioning a study on the events of 1915 from the New York-based
International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).
In a 2003 report, the ICTJ concluded that the Armenian massacres
`include all of the elements of the crime of genocide' as defined by a
1948 United Nations convention. Former U.S. President George W. Bush
repeatedly cited the ICTJ study in his April 24 statements.
U.S. -- President Barack Obama (L) greets Turkish Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC,
Obama on Saturday also paid tribute to the `remarkable spirit' of the
Armenian people. `The indomitable spirit of the Armenian people is a
lasting triumph over those who set out to destroy them,' he
said. `Many Armenians came to the United States as survivors of the
horrors of 1915. Over the generations Americans of Armenian descent
have richened our communities, spurred our economy, and strengthened
These words will hardly placate influential Armenian-American advocacy
groups that had strongly backed Obama's presidential bid and now
deplore his reluctance to use the word `genocide.' They have also
criticized the Obama administration for opposing a congressional draft
resolution affirming the Armenian genocide.
The Turkish government scrambled to halt further progress of the
resolution after it was approved by U.S. House Foreign Affairs
committee on March 4. Turkish leaders also warned Obama against
uttering the politically sensitive word in his April 24 message. Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested after meeting Obama in
Washington last week that the U.S. president will heed the warning.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian seemed resigned to that as he
addressed the nation Thursday on the future of the Turkish-Armenian
normalization process. But he implied that Obama's failure to term the
1915 massacres a genocide will not halt the decades-long Armenian
campaign for genocide recognition.
`Our struggle for the international recognition of the Genocide
continues,' said Sarkisian. `If some circles in Turkey attempt to use
our candor to our detriment, to manipulate the process to avoid the
reality of the 24th of April, they should know all too well that the
24th of April is the day that symbolizes the Armenian Genocide, but in
no way shall it mark the time boundary of its international
Most of the researchers of the Armenian Genocide abroad are Turkish
nationals, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Hayk
Demoyan said at a press conference today.
According to Demoyan a lot of students defend their theses on the
topic of the Armenian Genocide in different universities across the
world while there is not a single Armenian student among them.
"And they are future scientists, and that is a well-planned strategy,"
said he, adding that all the heads of the chairs that are related to
the genocide issue this way or another are also Turks.
In his words there is no new generation of scientists to substitute
the elder ones.
"There is a serious threat: in a 15-20 years' time the Armenian
Genocide may become only a historical reality," concluded Demoyan.