BY ARMEN ISRAYELYAN
TEHRAN (panorama.am)—Iranian-Armenian students have appealed to Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani with an open letter urging his government to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
The authors of the letter have drawn Iran’s President’s attention to the unconstructive policy of Turkey in the region, noting that today Turkey does not only deny the Genocide committed against around 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, but also sponsors the terrorist groups in the region which slaughter numerous innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq.
Highlighting the peaceful coexistence of various ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, the Iranian-Armenian students are calling on Rouhani to recognize the Armenian Genocide, in a step to help prevent such atrocities in the future.
Despite their serious disagreements concerning regional issues, Iran and Turkey maintain economic relations.
As a Muslim country, Iran has been conducting a moderate and cautious policy regarding the Armenian Genocide over the last years. Remarkably, however, the members of parliament of the 6th Majlis of Iran condemned the Armenian Genocide. Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, then President of Iran, visited Tsitsernakaberd during his official visit to Yerevan on September 9, 2004. Vice president of Iran, Hamid Baghaei, used the word “genocide” during a conference in August 2010. “The government of Ottoman Turkey committed genocide in 1915,” he said. However, the statement was refuted to prevent aggravating relations with Turkey.
The former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, avoided going to Tsitsernakaberd during his official visit to Armenia in 2007.
The recent years have seen some changes in the position of official Tehran regarding the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian community of Iran has recently been allowed to hold a number of events without facing substantial obstacles, including protests in front of the Turkish Embassy in Iran in the past two years.
However, both the political and religious elite of Iran, as well as ordinary citizens, admit the fact of the Armenian Genocide, as, according to Iranian sources, the Ottoman Turks also slaughtered many Armenians in Iran’s Urmia region in 1918.