YEREVAN—Armenian political analyst Ara Papian, who heads the Modus Vivendi Centre, has addressed an open letter to Prince Charles of the UK, urging him to attend commemorations of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in Armenia. The Prince of Wales has been noted for his support of the Armenian community in the past. The full text of Papian’s letter is below.
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Your Royal Highness,
There is unequivocal truth in that the lives of kings and princes are full of responsibilities. Paying respect to the memory of the subjects of their own country is, without doubt, one of the most commendable responsibilities. Hence, Your and Prince Harry’s planned visit to Istanbul this year on April 24-25 and participation in the commemorative ceremony of the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign, which is dedicated to the memory of the victims of around 35 thousand British subjects, is perfectly understandable. However, the issue is not as straightforward as it appears to be at first sight.
The military actions in Gallipoli or Çanakkale, as Turks refer to it, commenced on 18 March, 1915. Consequently, Turkey has traditionally been commemorating it on 18 March. It would be wise to question as to why this year Turkey has decided to commemorate it on 24 April? No notable event has taken place on April 24 in the Gallipoli Campaign. If the change in the calendar for the commemoration by Turks is conditioned by the fact that Turkey wishes to give importance to the intended landing of the British-French navy on the shores of the peninsula (although it is not clear why Turkey would give importance to it), then it should be noted that this took place on April 25. The change in the calendar by the Turkish authorities (the change of Çanakkale celebration from 18th to 24th of April ) pursues only one aim – to obscure and even ridicule the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, which has always been commemorated on 24 April.
By making such changes in the calendar, the Turkish authorities are using You as a means to their end in a distorted game of propaganda. By participating in the theatrical performance organised by the Turkish authorities on April 24, the day of the commemoration of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, you will not only disrespect the memory of the British victims of Gallipoli, but you will also forever stain the British throne and Bonae Memoriae of your ancestor George V. After all, the liberation of the Armenian people from the oppression of the Ottoman Empire was one of the principal reasons and officially announced objectives of the British Empire, its Monarch and the Government, in joining the First World War. At the time, the British Empire failed to carry out its mission, and as a result, millions of innocent victims paid with their blood. At least now, do not desecrate the memory of your soldiers, who fell for the freedom of the Armenians, and the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. A representative of the British monarchy should not be coerced into being a puppet in the political games of a state with such an agenda.
In fact, recognizing their own culpability in the massacres of the Armenians, which was a result of their failure to land onshore during the Gallipoli Campaign, the Government of George V, together with Russia and France, made a joint statement on 24 April, 1915 and promised to bring to justice those responsible for the Armenian massacres. Alas, neither Your country, nor Russia or France kept their promise. I find it necessary to mention, that the righteous offsprings of my homeland did not forget the promises of the great powers, and a considerable number of the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide received their deserved punishment.
Your Highness and Prince Harry are visiting Istanbul to take part in the Anzac Day Commemoration, which has always been remembered on April 25. I do believe that it is Your duty to remember the British subjects. However, it must be acknowledged that is also Your duty to remember the Armenians, who became victims of the policy of the British Empire. If the British Empire had not prevented the collapse of the Ottoman Empire on various occasions, the Armenians would have not been massacred; instead they would happily live in their millennial homeland and would not mourn their losses every year on April 24. If you are going to take part in the commemorative ceremony in Istanbul on the dawn of the 25th of April, then it is your duty to also pay tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The flight from Yerevan to Istanbul will only require 3 hours and 40 minutes, given the two-hour time zone difference between the two cities.