A scuplture commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was supposed to have been unveiled in Copenhagen this coming weekend but resistance to the project has delayed its debut by months, The Local reports.
The busy Copenhagen square Kultorvet was scheduled to see the installation of a nine-metre high sculpture entitled ‘The Draem’ (Danish Remembrance Armenian Empathy Messenger) on May 23 but the fear of vandalism and even violence has delayed the sculpture’s debut until September, Politiken reported on Monday.
The sculpture was supposed to be placed in Kultorvet for ten days to mark 100 years since upwards of 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman regime. The announcement of the project last month was met by an official protest from the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen, which called the sculpture “morally indefensible”.
Since then, resistance to the sculpture has grown within Denmark’s Turkish community, Denmark’s largest immigrant group.
Turkey officially rejects the notion that the 1915 mass killings constitute a genocide.
More than 100 complaints have been filed with the City of Copenhagen over the plans to instal the sculpture, in an apparent effort from the Turkish community to kill the project.
Politiken reported that many of the complaints share the same language including the line that “Copenhagen should not play host to a sculpture that incites hatred.”
Fears that the sculpture could lead to violent resistance have led Armenia’s ambassador to Denmark to push its debut back to September.
“As you know, ‘The Draem’ has, despite being designed as a marking of peace promotion, unleashed an anger that could possibly give rise to violence,” Ambassador Hrachya Aghajanyan wrote to Copenhagen Deputy Mayor Carl Christian Ebbesen, according to Politiken.
Aghajanyan told the newspaper that from an insurance standpoint, the project is now considered ‘high risk’ and meeting the requirements to properly insure the work have become more complicated than originally anticipated.
Levent Ökten, the deputy chairman of the national organization of Turkish associations, said that around 2,000 members of the Turkish community plan to protest against the unveiling of the sculpture.
“It is not fair that Turks living here are taken hostage in a 100-year-old conflict. Therefore we want to express our strong dissatisfaction with both the sculpture and the city’s decision on something that they should let historians decide,” Ökten told Politiken.
Ökten added that protests against the sculpture would be peaceful.
“We are not out for trouble. We are adults and one naturally should not fear us. Just as they [the people behind The Draem, ed.] are using their democratic rights, we will also show that we are here,” he added.
Ebbesen said he was disappointed by the delay.
“I am deeply offended as a politician and a member of the Danish People’s Party by the fact that one cannot express their opinions in Denmark. I think we should take that very seriously. We must not bow down,” he told Politiken.
Ebbesen added however that it is not the city’s responsibility to insure the sculpture.
While the European Parliament, a UN sub-committee and more than 20 countries worldwide recognize the killings as a genocide, Denmark does not.
“The Danish government does not keep silent about the tragic events of 1915 but has not officially acknowledged the events as genocide. Our opinion is that that distinction is better left to historians,” Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said last month when the sculpture was announced.