ISTANBUL, Turkey: Hundreds demonstrated in Istanbul’s central Taksim square on Tuesday to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turks during World War I.
The large group of Turkish, Armenian and Kurdish protesters staged a sit-in, holding pictures of prominent Armenian intellectuals including journalist Hrant Dink, who was killed in 2007 in front of his Istanbul office.
“We are here to say this pain belongs to all of us … We are trying to share the pain of Armenians,” said Senol Karakas, a spokesman for the group.
The group sat in silence, some of them crying.
“We are here to lament, and we are going to do it in dignity and in silence,” Karakas said.
Police tightened security during the protest and an ambulance was on hand.
“This is the third year we are gathering to commemorate the beginning of the genocide,” demonstrator Turgay Cakar said. “The crowd is growing larger every year.”
The Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association staged a similar commemoration in front of the Museum for Turkish and Islamic Arts, which it said was used as a prison for arrested Armenian intellectuals in that period.
Armenians mark the anniversary every year on April 24, which is accepted as the date in 1915 when the Ottoman campaign began.
Over 1000 rally to commemorate Armenian Genocide in Istanbul
Over 1000 people gathered in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, to commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide on April 24 evening.
The rally began at 19.15 pm and lasted about half an hour under the motto “No to racism”. As a source in Istanbul told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter, the participants, Armenians among them, were sitting on the ground as a sign of protest. Some of the demonstrators were holding photos of Hrant Dink, the slain editor of Agos Armenian-Turkish newspaper.
Meanwhile, representatives of Turkish opposition party Halk Kurtulush Partisi, or HKP (People’s Liberation Party), occupied the center of the square with posters reading “Armenian Genocide is a lie”.
Police officers with batons made up a chain between the two groups to prevent clashes.
Obama Avoids Armenian ‘Genocide’
President Obama is getting heat for his speech honoring Armenian Remembrance Day. The president avoided mentioning the word “genocide” for the fourth year in a row, despite having vowed as a presidential candidate to acknowledge it. In a statement, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America voiced his feelings of betrayal, condemning the president and saying his “pledge to recognize the Armenian genocide stands as a stark lie.” While Obama emphasized that his “view of history has not changed” and applauded diplomacy efforts between Armenians and Turks, his speech was criticized by the other side as well, with the Turkish ambassador in Washington calling the president’s statement “wrongful” and “distorted.”