Armenians mark anniversary

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

In the Armenian capital Yerevan, hundreds of thousands took part in commemorations which began with a torchlight vigil to a hill-top memorial.

Clutching flowers, mourners filed into the monument to pay their respects to the dead and offering prayers.

By Sunday afternoon the mounds of flowers were over a metre high.

On the night of April 24, 1915, Ottoman authorities began rounding up intellectuals, diplomats and other influential Armenians in Istanbul, as civil unrest grew, particularly in the eastern parts of the country.

Armenians believe the killings paved the way to the Holocaust.

They claim up to 1.5 million of their people ultimately died or were killed over the next several years, as part of a campaign of genocide to force them out of the country.

Turkey acknowledges large numbers of Armenians died, but it claims the overall figure is inflated.
Instead it maintains the deaths were merely casualties of war, during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Ankara, which has no diplomatic ties with Armenia, is facing increasing pressure to fully acknowledge the event, particularly as it seeks membership in the European Union.

The issue is extremely sensitive in Turkey. In Istanbul, 30-year-old Turkish engineer Bulent Aktug said genocide was the wrong word. “There was a lot of killing by both sides at that time,” he told Reuters.

France, Russia, Germany and Poland are among 15 nations that have declared the killings were genocide.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian believes a Turkish admission of genocide is necessary not only from a moral point of view, but also to guarantee regional security.

He says Armenia is not seeking financial compensation from Turkey.

Ankara earlier this month called for the two countries to jointly research the killings.

In Russia, hundreds attended a memorial service at a construction site for an Armenian church in Moscow, while more than a hundred others waved flags and shouted outside the Turkish Embassy.

In north-eastern Syria, 4,000 people flocked to the city of Marqada, where thousands of Armenians are buried.

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