Armenian victims of atrocities and a forced deportation in a volume of genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 were commemorated in İstanbul on the 102nd anniversary of the tragedy on Monday.
Participants carried photographs of victims and posters reading “Armenian Genocide: Recognize, apologize, compensate” during the program, which was organized by the Human Right Association (İHD) in the Sultanahmet district of İstanbul, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
The commemoration took place in front of the Turkish-Islamic Arts Museum, a former prison where Armenians were held prior to deportation.
Attendees called for removal of the names of Enver Pasha and Talat Pasha, who they deem responsible for the deportations and atrocities committed against Armenians, from streets and schools in Turkey.
In the meantime Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a message for a religious ceremony held at the Armenian Patriarchate in İstanbul.
“On this day, which carries special significance for our Armenian citizens, I once again respectfully commemorate all the Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives amid the conditions of World War I and extend my condolences to their children and grandchildren,” said Erdoğan.
“I commemorate with compassion and respect all the Ottoman citizens, regardless of their ethnic and religious identity, who lost their lives under similar conditions during this war.”
US President Donald Trump has also marked the annual commemoration of the 1915 events, echoing his predecessors by using the Armenian term while referring to the tragedy on Monday. “Today, we remember and honor the memory of those who suffered during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century,” Trump said in a statement.
“We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again. We welcome the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future,” he added.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Armenian deputy Garo Paylan also called on the Turkish government to recognize 1915 as “genocide,” echoing a statement released by his party calling the events “genocide.”
Two other commemoration activities were also announced at the Şişli Armenian Cemetery and in Tunel Square, in İstanbul’s Beyoğlu district. (SCF with turkishminute.com) April 24, 2017