Human rights organizations in Turkey, under the umbrella group “100th Year – Stop Denialism,” have issued the following statement:
An indelible, massive crime was committed in these lands, 100 years ago—a crime that will remain irreversible, irremediable, and unforgivable. During the genocide of 1915, Armenians and other Christian peoples of Asia Minor, among them Assyrians and Rums, were targeted by a systematic politics of extermination, and destroyed along with their social organizations, economy, arts and crafts, and historical and cultural heritage.
Our initiative “100th Year – Stop Denialism” was established to commemorate the genocide on April 24, in Istanbul and Diyarbakır. The initiative brings together (in alphabetical order) the Anatolian Cultures and Research Association (Aka-Der), Human Rights Association (HRA) – Committee against Racism and Discrimination, Nor Zartonk, Platform for Confronting History, Turabdin Assyrians Platform, and Zan Foundation for Social, Political, and Economic Research. Our initiative is also supported by the Gomidas Institute (London), the Armenian Council of Europe, and Collectif Van (Paris), whose representatives will be joining us.
Shame and responsibility are the basis of the “100th Year – Stop Denialism Initiative’s” conceptualization of the commemoration. We believe that any commemoration of the crime of genocide on these lands will have to express the responsibility of genocide denial itself, and the shame felt by the descendants of the peoples who have had the opportunity for growth, development, and enrichment in the absence of–due to the absence of–the peoples who fell victim to genocide.
While this understanding constitutes the ethical core of our acts of commemoration on April 24, our concrete demands are for recognition, apology, compensation, and restitution.
Our initiative’s commemorations begin at 11 a.m. on April 24, in front of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts on Sultanahmet Square, where we will hold a moment of silence in memory of the victims. This building was known as the central prison in 1915; individuals from the Istanbul Armenian community, including intellectual leaders, were arrested in their homes, detained here, and then sent off to the Haydarpaşa train station.
After the moment of silence, we will begin our “Genocide March,” walking in silence from Sultanahmet to Eminönü, and then crossing over to Haydarpaşa by sea. The detainees of April 24, 1915, were deported from Haydarpaşa to the depths of the country—in actual fact, to their deaths. Here, our “Genocide March” will end with another commemoration.
From Haydarpaşa, we will proceed to the Şişli Armenian Cemetery to commemorate Sevag Şahin Balıkçı, who fell victim to a ethnic-hate murder on April 24, 2011, while on mandatory military duty in Batman, and express our support to the Balıkçı family in their pursuit of justice.
Before and after the events of the “100th Year – Stop Denialism Initiative,” the constituents of the initiative will participate in two other events. Representatives of the Armenian Council of Europe, who were invited to Istanbul by the HRA Committee Against Racism and Discrimination, will hold a commemoration on Beyazıt Square at 10 a.m. on the same day, April 24. Members of the HRA Committee Against Racism and Discrimination, human rights defenders, and activists against genocide denial will participate in the commemoration of 20 Henchak Party leaders and members who were executed by hanging on June 15, 1915–yet another mass execution, of symbolic import, during the period of the Armenian Genocide.
A protest march organized by Nor Zartonk will start out at 6:30 p.m., from Galatasaray Lycée and head toward Taksim Square, followed by a 100th year commemoration event led by the Platform for Commemorating the Armenian Genocide, at 7:15 p.m., at the Taksim end of Istiklal Street.
Concurrently, in Diyarbakır, the Human Rights Association Diyarbakır branch and the Gomidas Institute are jointly organizing a commemoration of Armenian and Assyrian victims in the ruins of Surp Sarkis Church at noon on April 24, with support from the Diyarbakır Bar Association and the Zan Foundation.
The struggle for genocide recognition and against denialism will end neither on April 24, 2015, nor on Dec. 31, 2015. Until the state of the Republic of Turkey and the majority following official ideology recognize the crime and take steps toward compensation for the irreversible and irremediable losses, we will persevere in our pursuit of justice for the genocide victims of Asia Minor and for their descendants, who are dispersed around the world or who continue to live under the conditions of genocide perpetuated by denial.
100th Year – Stop Denialism Initiative