ISTANBUL—During an event on Monday to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum located in Sultanahmet district organized by Human Rights Association Commission against Racism and Discrimination, participants called on Turkey to recognize the Genocide and apologize and make compensations for the crime.
Organized by “April 24 Commemoration Platform,” the commemoration event was held with a poster reading “Armenian Genocide, recognize, apologize, compensate,” while participants carried carnations and photographs of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Istanbul-based Agos newspaper.
A group chanting “We are the soliders of Mustafa Kemal” and “We are the soldiers of Erdoğan,” attempted to interrupt the event but was prevented from provoking participats.
“We are trying to fight against the inherent hatred and vengeance of the state. We are talking about an annihilation that is going on for 102 years,” said Benjamin Abtan, Head of European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, during whose remarks the group attempted the interruption.
Abtan said that commemorating the victims of genocide is to defend democracy. “Fighting against denial of genocide and genocide itself are not peculiar to Turkey. That is why we, non-Armenians, are a part of this struggle.”
Following Abtan’s speech, Meral Cıldır, member of Human Rights Association Commission against Racism and Discrimination, read a written statement on behalf of April 24 Commemoration Platform, which also mentioned the Ottoman Turkish massacres of Syriacs and Pontus Greeks.
Below is the text of the statement:
“Today is April 24. The symbolic beginning of Armenian Genocide. We have to remind that Syriac people had been subjected to genocide in Asia Minor between 1914 and 1923, and Pontus Greeks were subjected to genocide both by Ottoman state and Kemalist movement.
Rule of darkness trivializes even the most horrific evils. It makes criminal actions and situations ordinary. People get used to the injustices to which they have to resist and they experience them as a part of daily life.
Talat Pasha planned Armenian Genocide with a cold-blooded precision; he executed the plan, followed its course and meticulously recorded its results. Today, Talat Pasha and Enver Pasha are buried in mausoleum. They are honored with the place that is given to them in Monument of Liberty.
We invite all people who object against genocide denial to protest the naming of schools after Talat Pasha and his grave in the Monument of Liberty. Anatolia is a land of genocide. Turkey is a land of genocide denial. Today, the mentality of genocide and denial still prevails.”
A second event, a silent vigil commemorating the victims of the Armenian Genocide, took place in Taksim Square and was attended by the Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan and the parents of Sevag Balıkcı’s an Armenian soldier who was killed on April 24, 2011 in his barracks.
The event, which was organized by the Commemoration of Armenian Genocide Victims Committee, issued a statement, which was read by one of the group’s members Murat Celikkan.
Below is the statement, which did not use the word genocide but called on Turkish authorities to apologize for the crime and referenced Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan “condolence” message to “Ottoman Armenians.”
“We expect an apology, instead of condolence messages talking about the suffering of both sides. It’s been 102 years; don’t wait for 103rd year. Apologize!”
“While a people was annihilated with its entire culture, culture of coexistence was damaged fatally. Anatolia became barren without its cultures and peoples, making all of us, all people who lived in Anatolia for generations alone. This barrenness that influenced, surrounded and sickened all generations can only be ended with confrontation.”
Saying that “In fact, barrenness and loneliness is not the only problem,” Celikkan added: “Confronting the events of 1915 would contribute to adoption of the essence of democracy as the norm.”
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), of which Paylan is a member, also issued an announcement on the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.