Armenian genocide: ‘No peace without recognition’

People commemorate the genocide in Istanbul's Taksim square.

The annual ‘One day… 24 April’ remembrance event for the 102. anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was prevented from being held at the Pangalti Station by police in Istanbul on Sunday.

The event, organised by the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was held instead at the HDP Sisli branch office.

Speaking at the remembrance, Norayr Olgar, the co-chair of Nor Zartonk, an association set up to organise the Armenians of Turkey, said, “Without recognition there can be no peace. The victims of the genocide are everywhere.”

Olgar likened the war and state policies in the country’s Kurdish region to the killing of 1,5 million Armenians in 1915, and said the same mentality continued.

“We had wanted to hold the 102. Year remembrance outside. But police didn’t allow it and told us they would attack us. This is why we are holding the remembrance and talks here.

A local HDP executive, Melis Tantan, said the aim of the remembrance was to soften the effects and social trauma of the genocide and call for the government to confront the pain and suffering caused by the events.

“The genocide didn’t end in 1915. The streets where Armenians live were given the names Bozkurt, Turk Beyi, Baysungur… [names with nationalist Turkish connotations], those responsible for the genocide like Talat Pasa still have schools named after them. The genocide continues in the murder of Hrant Dink, Sevag Balikci and Maritsa Kucuk and the fact that those responsible are not punished and the truth is shrouded.”

Three other remembrance events are expected to be held in Istanbul on Monday.

Between 800,000 and 1,5 million Armenians are thought to have been systematically killed during the final years of the Ottoman Empire (1914-1918).

The Turkish government refuses to recognise the events as genocide. Several European governments, including Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, recognise the killings as genocide. The UK, US and Israel however have refrained.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to hold remembrance events and protests outside Turkish consulates across the world.