BEIRUT—Lebanese Armenian community members gathered at the Beirut International Airport Wednesday to protest the arrival of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is on a two-day official visit.
Demonstrators chanted slogans such as “the Lebanese have not forgotten Turkey’s bloody history in the region,” and “Erdogan should bow before our martyrs.” Reports indicate that the protests were peaceful amid heavy security. They also held signs that read: “Today’s Turkey is yesterday’s Turkey: malicious, oppressive and an ally of the enemy.”
Armenian parliamentary bloc chairman Hagop Pakradouni said Lebanese officials were giving Erdogan “more importance than his real role and forgetting that he is the heir of the Ottoman Empire.” In an interview with the local OTV channel Pakradouni condemned all announcements praising Erdogan, saying that the Lebanese public must stay true to its collective memory.
Another protest is organized for Thursday at Martyrs’ Square with the three Armenian political parties—the Social Democratic Hunchakian party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Armenian Democratic League (Ramkavar) party—calling all facets of the community to turn out in droves.
The aim of the protest, according to Shahan Kandaharian, the editor of Asbarez’s sister publication Aztag, is to remind the world and the Lebanese public that today’s Turkish government is the heir to the Ottoman Empire, under which Lebanon suffered great losses and Turkey is not worthy of honor and the warm welcome being given by official Beirut.