Armenian organizations mark 1915 at ceremonies in Istanbul
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A civil society mission to Istanbul held a ceremony in front of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts yesterday. DAILY NEWS photo / Emrah GÜRELA series of activities were held in Istanbul yesterday to mark the 98th anniversary of the mass killings of Armenians during World War I.
Along with a delegation composed of 25 people from diaspora organizations, various non-governmental organizations from Europe attended the events held by Stop Nationalism and Racism Platform and Human Rights Association (İHD).
“Armenian organizations’ participation in the commemoration activities is of a great importance. We are here to support NGOs’ struggle for the recognition of the [Armenian] genocide,” The European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM) president Benjamin Abtan told the Daily News.
The day was marked by commemorations worldwide, with the U.S. President Barack Obama releasing a statement which avoided the term “genocide.”
“Today we commemorate the Meds Yeghern and honor those who perished in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century,” the statement read.
In Yerevan, a crowd flocked to a hilltop memorial to mark the 98th anniversary of the killings, as many headed to the memorial that commemorates the massacres to lay flowers at the eternal flame, Agence France-Presse reported.
Visit to Turkish governor
In Istanbul, the participants of the events firstly headed to Zincirlikuyu Muslim Cemetery and visited the grave of Faik Bey Ozansoy, the Ottoman Empire’s Kütahya governor who helped Armenians during the 1915 incidents. A commemoration ceremony was held in front of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, which served as a prison in which many Armenian intellectuals were jailed during that period.
Federation of Armenian Organizations in The Netherlands and the Abovian Armenian Cultural Association President Mato Hakhverdyan was also in Turkey to participate in the commemoration ceremonies. Hakhverdyan said it was his first time in Turkey and that he was happy to be in the first delegation that came to Turkey to participate in the commemoration activities. “Only with dialogue will we be able to overcome issues. There is an awakening in Turkey; no doubt nongovernmental organizations play a huge role in this,” hne said. Seta Papazian, a representative of the France-based association Collectif Van, said: “If they had told me a few years ago that I would come here and participate in the commemorations, I would not have believed it,” she said.
Within the framework of activities, the grave of Sevag Şahin Balıkçı was also visited in the afternoon. Sevag Şahin Balıkçı was killed while doing his military service two years ago on April 24 in the eastern province of Batman, by a bullet fired from his army mate’s weapon.