Turks, Armenians, foreign delegation commemorate 1915 events

Turkish Armenians and Turkish civil society groups joined with a foreign delegation comprising 20 anti-racist and Armenian representatives from 15 countries to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the tragic events of 1915 in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square on Wednesday, Today’s Zaman reported. 

The foreign delegation, which joined the commemoration for the first time this year, included the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Young Professionals from Bulgaria, the Roma Center in Romania, which works for Roma rights, and the AGBU from France and the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM). There were also representatives from Turkish NGOs.

Protesters have deliberately staged the event in front of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Sultanahmet Square, as the building of the museum was a prison in 1915 where Armenian intellectual leaders before they were executed.

During the commemoration, different civil society groups delivered speeches and urged the Turkish government to recognize the 1915 events as “genocide.”

A member of the EGAM delegation, Moavia Ahmad, said he was optimistic about a move that can come from the Turkish government to solve the issue. “My opinion [about Turkey] has started to change with Turkey’s deal with the Kurdish issue, which is opening doors for other issues just like the Armenian problem, ” said Ahmad. However, he added that it will be early to comment on Turkey’s attitude towards apologizing  for the 1915 events before the 100th anniversary of the events in 2015.

However, many of the protesters think that public opinion should be changed in such a way that when Turkey recognizes the 1915 events, there will not be strong opposition to the steps that will be taken by the government to solve the issue.

Marie Anne, an Armenian whose grandparents moved to France from Anatolia, said they were able to understand the opposition coming from some Turkish people who say Turks cannot do any wrong towards Armenians. However, she said we should help them understand that some tragic events happened in the past.

Another protestor from the Greens and Left Future Party, Nadire Gül, said every year the number of people who attend the April 24 commemorations has been increasing, in particular those from an Armenian background.

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