LONDON (ArmRadio)—On Tuesday, 100 people began a hunger strike on Downing Street, where the seat of the UK government is located in London, to commemorate the Armenian genocide, London 24 reports.
The hunger strike is also a vigil for the million and a half people who were killed in the Armenian genocide 100 years ago – and a protest against Turkey’s continued insistence that the deaths were not a systematic genocide.
In 1915, Ottoman forces in Turkey began systematically slaughtering the Armenian Christian minority.
Turkey has never accepted that the murder of half of the Armenian population was genocide.
Now, a century later, Turkey has moved the annual commemorations of the battle of Gallipoli – which are usually held on March 17 and April 25 – to April 24, which clashes with the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
Vigil organizer Bernard Nazarin believes that this change is deliberate, and is condemning the UK’s decision to take part in the Turkish celebrations.
“We believe the British government should know better. Other European leaders are ignoring the Turkish invitation,” Nazarian said.
Nazarian, who helped to organize the vigil and hunger strike said it is “outrageously insensitive” that “the British Government is sending Prince Charles to Istanbul without question.”
World leaders who have rejected Turkey’s invitation include Russia’s President, French President Hollande, and the Pope. Instead they are commemorating the centenary of the genocide in Armenia’s capital.
The ethnic cleansing of a million and a half Armenian people by Turkish forces in WWI is often compared to the Jewish Holocaust in WWII, and Nazarian said the two tragedies stir up similar emotions.
“When people speak about it there is nothing but pain and sorrow. I as a human being and Armenian feel the pain as I do for the Jewish Holocaust in Germany – but at least the perpetrators of that Holocaust have been punished.”
“I know many people, close relatives who were affected. My uncle’s family escaped from Van in the east of Turkey,” Nazarian said.
The vigil and hunger strike is taking place Tuesday opposite 10 Downing Street until 4 p.m. on Saturday April 25. There will also be a vigil outside the Turkish Embassy on Friday April 24 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.