TBILISI, Georgia (DFWatch)—A memorial to the Armenian genocide was unveiled in Tbilisi on Monday. The memorial is made of stone and stands in the yard of one of the Armenian churches in the capital.
Levon Isakhanian, a representative of the Armenian community in Georgia, explained to Georgian news agency DF Watch that a khachkar is a stone with a cross and ornaments engraved in it. This is a memorial statue and it is an Armenian tradition to place such stones on graves.
There are only a few khachkars left in Georgia, dating from different time periods.
This is the second Armenian stone memorial in Georgia. The first one was placed in front of another Armenian church in Tbilisi a few years ago in order to pay tribute to people who died in Tbilisi on April 9, 1989, during a pro-independence rally which was dispersed by Soviet soldiers.
The new khachkar is dedicated to the memory of approximately 1.5 million people who were massacred by the Ottoman government during the Armenian Genocide at the turn of the 20th century.
Historians and many politicians consider the mass killings, torture, deportations, and ultimately displacement of the Armenian population from its native homeland in 1915-1918 as genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire.
Every year on April 24, the Armenian community in Georgia holds rallies outside the Turkish embassy in Tbilisi. They pay tribute to those who were killed and demand that the Georgian government recognize the genocide.
The Turkish government categorically denies that the Ottoman Empire carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Armenians. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan said in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that there cannot be any conversation about any kind of genocide. He said he thinks that assessing these events is a subject for historians and lawyers, not politicians. Erdoğan said Turkey is ready to publish historical material and calls on Armenia to take the same step. He said he thinks it is a mistake when journalists and politicians use the word “genocide.”
The unveiling of the new memorial was held in connection with the April 24 commemoration and was attended by representatives of different churches.
“It is a very important day for the history of the Armenian community in Georgia. This is a day when a khachkar, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, was erected for the first time in Tbilisi,” Vazgen Mirzakhaniani, head of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, said at the unveiling ceremony.
“We appreciate the attitude of Georgians to this day and we want this khachkar to also become a symbol for Armenian-Georgian relations, which go back centuries.”