Turks Gather to Mark Genocide Anniversary

'This pain belongs to all of us' was the slogan used at the vigil in Taksim Square in Istanbul

ISTANBUL—Armenian Genocide commemoration activities were held in six Turkish cities Sunday, with Istanbul hosting two events, reported the Hurriyet Daily News.

The first of the events in Istanbul was organized by the Human Rights Association (İHD) and took place at Turkey’s Islamic Artifacts Museum. Carrying red carnations baring the names of Armenian intellectuals who were rounded up on April 24, 1915, the crowd gathered at the site, which during the Genocide was the main Istanbul prison.

After reading a press statement, the silent crowd held banners that read: “The Museum – prison of 1915” and “The intellectuals were held here before being sent to their deaths.” Names of 250 intellectuals were read before the crowd dispersed, reported Hurriyet.

Ayşe Günarsu, a member of the İHD’s Istanbul chapter and the Commission Against Racism and Discrimination told Hürriyet that they were there to refresh the memory that society was made to forget.

“This location where the museum stands used to be İbrahimpaşa Palace in those years, also known as the Central Prison. The intellectuals were gathered here and then sent to exile from Haydarpaşa train station. Many of the intellectuals never returned,” Günaysu told Hurriyet, adding that the Turkish intellectuals are too late “to commemorate the genocide.”

“This is a matter of conscience,” said İhsan Kaçar, another member of the commission. “Intellectuals are not sufficient for Turkey to face itself. The NGOs need to have a clear stance on this matter. Facing the Armenian taboo will mean Turkey has to face its own history.”

The second Istanbul event took place later Sunday evening at Taksim Square, where hundreds gathered at a rally organized by a group called, “Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism.”

The participants, among them well-know Turks from academia, the press and the arts, placed carnations on a large banner that read “This pain belongs to all of us” placed at the center of the square. The silent vigil also featured the reading of the names of intellectuals.

Similar sit-ins also took place in Ankara, İzmir, Diyarbakır, Bursa and Bodrum.

The People’s Liberation Party (HKP) staged counter-demonstrations at Taksim Square, İzmir and Ankara at the same locations, arguing that the events of 1915 are “lies of imperialism.”

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30 Comments

  1. Anahid Keussdeyan said:

    Wow, I as an Armenian must be glad or be grateful that Turks have commemorated April 24th,The Armenian Genocide.

    I would like to know, how many of the participants do have Armenian blood in their veins. How many of these intellectuals were brought up by Armenian grandmothers with lullabies of garod, and longing of their lost loved ones.

    Many many years back, while I was working in Raqqa-Syria, I was told by the local peasents not to go near the river in the evening. The jinns hold a conference every night.

    The river bank was my solace after a days hard work. I used to sit and listen to the laments of Euphrates. Listening to the flow of the river and asking questions and murmuring the songs that I had learned from my grandmother.

    The desert was beautiful, the stars were bright, Euphrates was sharing my pain my longings my dreams.

    Do I have to be grateful or happy that some Turks commemorate the April 24th? May be some of them are the children of my lost aunts. What a joke.

  2. Hrag said:

    Dumbing down this crime against humanity into the emotional verbiage of generalized emotion like – “our pain” is ridiculous. Stick to the legal terms. If the plaque above doesn’t have the word genocide on it, it becomes perfect fodder for genocide deniers and their propagandists who are keen to make it a shared experience of “pain” rather than a deliberate act of state sanctioned murder against an innocent minority group of citizens that left one group in pain (Armenians) and another in shame (Turks).

    The massacres and genocide of the 1890’s and 1915 were not a result of freak natural disasters that caused untold “pain” to general masses of unwary citizens. It was a calculated premeditated cold blooded attempt at race extermination. Nothing less. Any plaque attempting to commemorate the Armenian Genocide without these exact words on them can and will be used by genocide deniers to showcase their so called “tolerance” for Armenians to unwary tourists. Its happened before and there’s no reason to think it wont happen again.

    • Samuel B. said:

      Bravo Hayorti Hrag! Thats exactly what I was thinking 1000%.Sometimes it seems as though some of our people areso focused solely on emotions that they forget the undeniable facts. Lets not let our cause for justice degenerate into an Oprah Winfrey saga of emotional outbursts alone. We have more important work to do in the legal arena where justice with or without emotions must continue.
      Again great comment, vartzget gadar.

    • Lucius said:

      I can understand your anger, but it’s a little difficult for them to do so when they know that they would all be arrested for using the word “genocide”. I think it’s impressive that there was a commemmoration by Turks at all.

    • Lucius said:

      In fact, we should be encouraging more of this kind of behaviour, so that Turks who actually do have a conscience would help our cause and raise more awareness about the Armenians in Turkish society.

  3. Roman said:

    Armenians and turks will never be brothers. Dont buy this bull crap.

  4. ashot said:

    we have twelve cities to regain from the mongols…then they will feal my pain.

  5. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    This is the kind of display that makes me feel at one with the Turkish people. If the educated intellectual city dwellers can make this transition, why can’t one day, the society at large and the government?
    I am opposed to any talk of reparations or returns. Those events happen only when Turks themselves feel they are prepared to address them.
    Everything begins with speaking, admitting and seeking the truth.
    Perhaps the time has arrived to speak of the pernicious role religion played in these massacres.
    Now that their society has become a secular democracy perhaps they can see how religious fervor played a great part in orienting their populace towards genocide.

    • Sarkis said:

      Ardevast, you said:

      “when Turks themselves feel they are prepared…” ? : do you believe in Santa Claus?

      “speak of the pernicious role of religion…” ? : Mr. Erdogan has stated over and over again that Genocide “does not and cannot not” exist in Islam. It’s true. As a non-Muslim you have rejected Allah, hence you are an infidel, and if you’re killed by a Muslim, your killer will be rewarded. In their holy book : [ non-believers are tolerated to live side by side to Muslims only as a second class citizens, they must be taxed at a higher rate than believers, and if they allegedly “block” the path of “truth”, they must be eliminated ].

      “have become a secular democracy…” !? I think Islam is on the rise in Turkey. Their government and policies are clearly based on Islamic fundamentals. [ Read also Wikileaks]. They are turning their back to the West and are looking more Eastward… Dreams of rekindling the “Empire” are well alive.

      Sorry, but welcome to the real world.

  6. stepan said:

    We must continue to encourage this enlightenment. It must always have integrity, but we must embrace this type of change. These people have courage and where we have common ground, we should display our support. This is the only place where gencide recognition will have a real impact for our cause.

  7. HAROUT DEMIRDJIAN said:

    IT’S GREAT TO SEE THE NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN TURKEY…HOWEVER THEIR ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED.
    SO WHAT’S THEIR INTENTION BEHIND THIS DECLARATION…? JUST MOURNING? WHAT STEPS THEY WILL TAKE AFTER THIS MEETING…? ARE THEY DECLARING THAT ANY COMPENSATION SHOULD BE DONE TO THE ARMENIAN NATION?

  8. Mihran said:

    My respect for these brave souls!!
    We must encourgae these brave persons!
    With people like this we might have a common future of mutual understanding and co-existing.
    With people like this we might sit down and have a fruitfull dialogue.
    They have taken the first step – to recognize the genocide! As of now we can not expect nor demand more of these individuals. They are taking a huge risk just being present at such manifestation. We must relize this.
    Sooner or later others will ask why individuals take such risks and then they will understand…

  9. Sirvart Garabedian said:

    I believe Turkey’s decent people’ voice for justice will be heard as time goes by, this more human right than Obama and his alike think we are begging for justice but cowardly caving in to liar today’s Turkish government barbaric leaders, Erdogan, Gul, Davitoglu & their staff who work under their pressure have to shuttup or else they fired from their fat jobs.. Long live all Turkish Human Right believers who mourn with us and Turkeish government has no right to persecute them and torture them in their dark jails as their dirty minded former pashas. Wake up Turkish people, it is not your fault denying 1915 Armenian Genocide and all other ethnics who were subjected to all kind of inhumane tortures and death, but it is your liar governments who show you the wrong direction since your birth that these atrocities never took place by their ancestors. If not in government schools, those who believe in justice, God will forgive you and please teach your children to be educated and harmless to other ethnics so that they are respected in the society wherever they may be.

  10. vazrik said:

    I am glad that there are eventually a handful of Turks who are at willing to acknowledge the Genocide, and start from there – assuming that the above is indeed an acknowledgement, or a pre-cursor to such. But admitting the Genocide must be a precondition to any consequential reconciliation. But, we have to be very careful of them. Remember that Young Turks were also educated and “intellectuals” or their day! First, I like to see what alterior motives the government has, because without their blessing no demonstrations would have or could have happened. These crowd needed the support of the government for their safety or otherwise there would have been mobs attacking them!

    • mehmet said:

      Turkish government couldnt ban demonstration due to pressure from Europe.

  11. sarkis defterderian 1.5 million mile runner 1 mile 1 victim said:

    It is absolutely great news and to see people of Turkey are taking a stand for human rights. This is a new beggining. To began healing the wounds betwean two nations Turkey and Armenians

  12. The seljuks said:

    ı m originaly Turk, ı have been in erivan a month ago, ı noticed that there is absolutly no difference betwen you and us. and no body knew that ı m Turk.
    we are aprox 80 million and most of us do not know wht is genocide and they dont care.
    I hope you will stop blaming Turks, and than we will know each other better

    • Sarkis said:

      You might be a turk now, but you did not call yourself a turk in 1915; you called yourself a Muslim living in the Ottoman Empire.

      Read the book called [ From Empire to Republic, Turkish Nationalism and The Armenian Genocide ], written by your compatriot Taner Akçam, to learn something from history and understand why you call yourself a turk today, and why a Genocide to eliminate Armenians from Anatolia was planned and executed by your ancestors to create the turkish identity that you enjoy today.

      Armenians need not much to learn from turks, rather you have to do a lot of reading to catch up with the rest of world and know your country’s history.

    • MICHAEL said:

      HELLO !!!!!!

      JUST FOR TRIAL FOR NOW.

      PLEASE BEFORE I WRITE YOUR ANSWER I WOULD LIKE YOU TO GO AND READ YOUR HISTORY. SEE WHERE YOU CAME FROM AND HOW YOU CALCULATE 80 MILLION TURK..

      YES TURKISH SUBJECTS. AS MY GRAND- GRAND FATHER WAS ALSO UNDER OTTOMAN TURKS.

    • MICHAEL said:

      THIS WAS FOR YOU SELJUK!!!!!!!

      MICHAEL says:
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      May 5, 2011 at 9:06 amHELLO !!!!!!

      JUST FOR TRIAL FOR NOW.

      PLEASE BEFORE I WRITE YOUR ANSWER I WOULD LIKE YOU TO GO AND READ YOUR HISTORY. SEE WHERE YOU CAME FROM AND HOW YOU CALCULATE 80 MILLION TURK..

      YES TURKISH SUBJECTS. AS MY GRAND- GRAND FATHER WAS ALSO UNDER OTTOMAN TURKS.

  13. Jda said:

    These are the spiritual children of the Turkish, Arab and Kurdish people who risked their safety to shelter their Christian neighbors. They risk their safety to speak the truth. They are more brave than most people of every ethnicity.

  14. Jda said:

    Seljuk,

    You went to Yerevan and learned that Turks, Armenians and maybe even all people are the same. Acquiring empathy is good, but I challenge you to acquire knowledge.

    Start by reading Turkish scholars who affirm the Genocide. Since they are Turks, consider their courage. I recommend you read the interview of Halil Berktay in 2000 in Radikal, where he describes crying when he saw the photos and read the first hand accounts of witnesses. Read younger scholar Umit Ungor’s Reign of Terror about the infamous Governor of Diyarbekir. Read also his recent work about how the Turkish state stole Armenian property. Then try Taner Akcam, Engin Akarli, Ahmet Ihnsel, Fatma Gocek, and Fuat Dundar and Selim Deringil.

    Armenians don’t Blame Turks of today. They credit the good neighbors in 1915 who helped their families.
    But we demand jUstice. And we hate the propaganda in your schools, and the racism in your society.

    Take your message of brotherhood to your nationalist friends and family. Speak against racism when you hear remarks against any minority. That’s how you can be a better person.

  15. Hrant K. said:

    Bloody Iron Hand from within and a “Silky Glove” from without . The Turks are wolves Wearing “Sheap

    Gowns” . Ooh aah, old turkish tricks don’t work any more! The Europeans are too smart for that “Media

    Dual Personality Deceptions”! Let our dear President learn from the so called “Old Continent” and not fall

    into the trap of Turkish Hoodineez, and for once be a true leader and distinguish Justice from Criminality !!! (7)

  16. necati said:

    It was not Turks killing those Ermenians but was Kurdish people because of the land rights.
    Turkish people lived hundreds of years in peace with not only Ermenians but also other minorities. Do you believe they will change their mind after 600 peaceful years ?

    • anonymous said:

      Turks killed my grandparents’s families, not Kurds. My grandfather at the age of 12 saw his Turkish neighbors kill his family.

  17. anonymous said:

    They’re probably all Armenians that say they are Turkish so they do not get harassed as badly.

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