Armenians mark anniversary of mass killings

RFI, France
April 24 2010

Armenians mark anniversary of mass killings

Officials attend the ceremony marking the anniversary of the mass
killings of Armenians, Yerevan, 24 April

Armenians marked the 95th anniversary on Saturday of mass killings
under the Ottoman Empire. Tens of thousands of people gathered in the
Armenian capital Yerevan. There were also peaceful demonstrations in
Beirut, while in Istanbul human rights activists and artists organised
a rally at Haydarpasa train station, where the first convoy of
deported Armenians left on 24 April 1915.

A constant stream of people laid flowers at a hilltop memoral in
Yerevan to pay tribute to the massacres, which Armenians say
constituted genocide.

`We thank all of those who in many countries of the world, including
in Turkey, understand the importance of preventing crimes against
humanity and who stand with us in this struggle. This process has an
inevitable momentum which has no alternative,’ Armenia’s President
Serzh Sarkisian said in a statement.

Sarkisian had attended a memorial service with the head of the
Armenian Apostolic Church, Karekin II.

There had been hopes last year of reconciliation between the two
neighbours. However the historic accord recently fell apart with
Armenia halting ratification of agreements aimed at normalising ties.

`For all intents and purposes the ratification of the protocols had
been stalled in both countries,’ correspondent Jasper Mortimer told

Protestors in Yerevan chanted `recognise’ and carried Armenian flags,
alongside flags of countries who have recognised the massacres as
genocide, including Canada, France, Poland and Switzerland.

Correspondent Jasper Mortimer, Ankara
(02:56) 24/04/2010 by Marjorie Hache


`Everybody is waiting for what President Barack Obama says today when
he issues the traditional White House declaration on the anniversary,’
says Mortimer.

Last year Obama avoided using the term `genocide’.

`Both Yerevan and Ankara will be watching to see if he calls those
mass killings genocide or not. Turkey has made it quite clear that it
objects to that word, it doesn’t believe that the killings were
systematic and its threatened to take retaliatory steps against
America, if it uses that word,’ says Mortimer.

Armenians say that up to 1.5 million people were killed between 1915
and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was failing apart.

Turkey rejects the label of genocide and says between 300,000 and
500,000 Armenians and as many Turks died.


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