Assen Police Censor Genocide Protest Banners

Police and City Hall intervened in a demonstration by Armenia’s through Assen Wednesday. By order of the Mayor the offensive texts were cut out of the banners.

ASSEN–Netherlands (Combine)–The protest march was previously planned in commemoration of the 1.5 million victims of the genocide on the Armenian population between 1915 and 1923. The march was held to attract attention to the fact that the Dutch government still has not recognized the genocide by the Turks on Armenia’s.

The protesters presented the Mayor of Assen Dineke van As with a petition requesting to recognize this genocide. She refused this. According to her this is not a case for Assen politics.

The censorship that was applied by the municipality and police on the banners did however cause much friction. According to a spokesperson of the Armenian community that was abnormal for Holland.

"We are not used to cutting banners or applying a cover-up policy. This shows that the government is still denying the genocide."

According to Mayor van As the intervention took place because the agreemen’s were not met. "The police and I had agreed with the organization that no offensive or provocative texts would be carried. They were there and therefore they were removed." That’s why some banners showed more holes than text.

A parliament member from the Dutch ChristenUnie bloc Van Dijke is outraged at the attitude of the police and the mayor of Assen. They did not allow the protesting Armenia’s last Wednesday to carry a banner with the text: ‘Turkey; 1.5 million victims; 1915′. Van Dijke has inquired Minister of Internal Affairs De Vries about this.

On Wednesday–the day on which compatriots commemorate the Armenian genocide of 1915 world-wide–Armenia’s held a peaceful demonstration in Assen. They presented the Mayor of the city with a petition. In it they requested the text on the Armenian monument in cemetery De Boskamp in Assen to be adapted anyway.

"In commemoration of our Armenian ancestors in the period 1910-1922" is now etched in the monument. The Armenia’s would like to use the word genocide in this text–a request that Assen municipality already rejected a year and a half ago–when the monument was being made. Turkey and the Turkish community in the Netherlands deny that a genocide on the Christian Armenia’s ever took place.

On several banners that the Armenia’s carried with them on Wednesday–there were texts like: "Turkey; 1.5 million victims; 1915." By order of the mayor and the police the protesters had to cut out the word Turkey from the banners.

Van Dijke–main speaker at the commemoration ceremony in Assen–is surprised and outraged at this state of affairs. He has asked Minister De Vries of Internal Affairs for an explanation. "I find this a very random policy. It was a very peaceful march. There was also not a sign of a Turk anywhere. Therefore I find it strange that the government becomes involved with texts on a banner–especially when Moroccans and Palestinians are sometimes freely left to their own devices."

Armenia’s deserve a national monument in commemoration of the genocide committed by the Turks in 1915. That monument could very well be placed near the International Tribunal in The Hague. Van Dijke said Wednesday afternoon at the commemoration ceremony for the Armenian genocide in Assen.

Last week–Van Dijke was present at the national commemoration ceremony in France–a country that shelters more than 300,000 Armenia’s. Authority and dignitaries were present at the ceremony in Notre Dame in Paris. Van Dijke: "Impressive! A large and spectacular memorial; a call to a new generation to be alert and offer strong resistance to threats against minorities and vulnerable ethnic groups."

In the Netherlands–with approximately 10,000 Armenia’s on her soil–a ceremony like the one in France is impossible as the Dutch government refuses to officially recognize and condemn the Armenian genocide.

Since the beginning of 2001 Dutch Armenia’s have had a monument in cemetery De Boskamp in Assen. Over 500 Armenia’s attended the April memorial last year. The location however–is less suitable for a national commemoration–thinks Van Dijke. "The International Tribunal stands as a symbol for the struggle against genocide and crimes against humanity. I hope The Hague’s municipality will not oppose the placing of a true national monument near the tribunal."

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