BY SOSSI ESSAJANIAN
CAMBRIDGE–MA (Armenian Weekly)–On January 30–approximately 20 Greater Boston Nejdeh AYF members gathered to protest the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
These protests followed Erdogan from Washington–where he met similar opposition by members of the Washington Ani AYF–all the way to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge–MA–where he was met with similar protest by AYF members–along with a group of 20 Kurds. The chants from the group of 40 Armenia’s and members of the New England Kurdish Community filled the streets–their words written on placards such as "Stop Turkish Fascism," and their flyers reading "End the Cycle of Genocide."
Leading the Kurdish group–Sardar Jajar said–"We are opposing Erdogan’s democracy–because there is no democracy in Turkey," also denouncing the Armenian Genocide.
During his speech–"Democracy in the Middle East–Pluralism in Europe: The Turkish Perspective," Erdogan–stated that democracy is a "modern-day requirement" and that Muslim regimes in the Middle East should embrace a free society.
Erdogan–the former mayor of Istanbul who helped found Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party–is in the United States to help repair relations that were weakened last year when the Turkish parliament rejected a US request to use its country as a military base to open a northern front in the Iraq war.
At a pre-speech press conference–Erdogan refused to address a question about the Armenian Genocide–saying "I have to underline one thing. You cannot serve humanity by itching these wounds and by trying to create animosity among people. . . In a world where we expect peace to be globalized–these are explosives that threaten peace."
AYF member Sebouh Arakelian–who had came out to protest on Friday night–explained why he was there: "I always feel good taking positive action such as protesting when I believe it is for an important cause. It makes me feel good to show my beliefs to others."
Protesting with the Kurds was something that he had never experienced. "I think as a whole we had a good turn out. I think the Kurdish people have a relevant case right now pertaining to their current situation and struggle with relocation within Iraq and Turkey. They feel sympathetic because they have gone through a lot of the same things–and still endure many of the similar struggles today that our Armenian nation has endured." He continued–"Getting justice is not easy–but little things like protesting spread awareness to others. After all–it is awareness that helps things such as genocide to never occur again–to any group."