ARF Stages Demonstration at UNESCO Paris Headquarters

PARIS (Gamk)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Committee of France–in protest of UNESCO’s consideration of marking the 700th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire–staged a massive demonstration at the UNESCO Paris headquarters Tuesday.

The more than 1,000 Armenia’s gathered at the UNESCO building brought with them the tri-color and protest signs–criticizing UNESCO’s stance on the issue.

Present at the demonstrations were representatives of many community organizations and public figures–including several governmental officials. Participating in the gathering were Sevran mayor Jacques Rudo–Clamari mayor Jean-Pierre Fuche–deputy mayor Hagop Artinian–Alphorville first deputy mayor Moranchel–deputy mayor Azad Khachikian and other French and Armenian officials.

Supporting the Armenian community were ethnic group representatives who consider UNESCO’s position and the history of the Ottoman Empire to be reprehensible.

Opening remarks at the gathering were delivered by Loris Derderian–following whom–the ARF Nor Serount message was read by Varoujan Sarkissian. Then –French-Armenian Friendship Association president Bret addressed the crowd.

Representing the ARF–Dickran Shirvanian addressed the attendees calling incomprehensible the reality of a worthy organization such as UNESCO supporting "a program which has been proposed by Turkey–only as an attempt to clean the bloody pages of its history."

Shirvanian went on to say that Turkey has yet again proven that it will not miss an opportunity to suppress the truth and try to cleanse itself of its dim past.

The ARF representative further described the efforts of Armenian officials including Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian’s–UNESCO representative Ashot Melik-Shahnazarian’s–Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s and His Holiness Aram I’s efforts in protesting this matter. Shirvanian went on to say that if UNESCO wishes to abide by its principles and conduct humane work–it should assemble a meeting on the Ottoman Empire–not to celebrate and erase its dark past–but to examine and fairly resolve the centuries of human rights abuse and oppression–whose consequences still continue today.

Following Shirvanian–the present public officials addressed the attendees declaring their absolute support for the demonstration and its cause. Then a letter–written by artist Charles Aznavour–was read. In the letter the international entertainer declared his protests against UNESCO’s decision.

Armenian Relief Society’s French Armenian Blue Cross Organization Regional Chairwoman Hellen Marjanian–then strongly criticized the situation saying that no self-respecting international organization can participate in the celebration of an empire–whose last act was the first genocide of the 20th Century–a genocide which has thus far gone unpunished."

Marjanian said that the heirs to the Armenian Genocide are angry today–because Turkey–once again–by laughing at the face of the international community is trying to celebrate those few momen’s of its history–forgetting the destruction the Ottoman Empire caused for so many peoples.

"The French–German–Israeli–particularly Arabic–African and Middle Eastern–Greek–Cypriot and Balkan representatives at UNESCO must remember their history–and revive their national collective memory and vote a resounding no on this Turkish 700th anniversary proposal."

Armenian representative Henri Papazian then informed the demonstrators that earlier on Tuesday a delegation of Armenian leaders had met with representatives of UNESCO Secretary General Federico Mayor. The Armenian delegation had been comprised of Varoujan Guereghian–Shirvanian and Papazian.

Papazian said that currently the UNESCO General Assembly is discussing its annual plan–and that the Ottoman issue will also be discussed and a decision reached by the end of the Assembly Saturday.

Papazian reminded the crowd that according to wire services Mayor had declared his opposition to Turkey’s proposal–however–the final official decision will be announced Saturday.

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