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.”