Guillaume Perrier (Le Monde)
Again this year, the commemorations of April 24th, 1915 the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, were held in Istanbul. Since 2010, the Turkish government allows public demonstrations.
At 13.00 the supporters of the IHD (Association of Human Rights) met at the Islamic Arts Museum, the former prison where 235 intellectuals and prominent Armenians in Istanbul were imprisoned in April 24, 1915, before being sent from Haydarpasa station, to Cankiri and Ankara. The IHD called on the Turkish government to recognize the genocide showing a banner that read: “1915 was a genocide. Genocide is a crime against humanity”.
The group then traveled to the former headquarters of the Ottoman post, to mail two letters, one addressed to Patriarch Karekin II, in Echmiadzin, Armenia. The other to the Patriarch of Antalya of the old Catholic Armenian Church of Cilicia, exiled in Lebanon since 1915 genocide. Both texts are here in English.
At 19.15, in Taksim Square, against all odds, a larger meeting was held by “Stop Racism” (DurDe) Association. Several hundred people, Turks and Armenians have sat in silence for about thirty minutes in front of a banner in Turkish, Armenian, Kurdish and Englisg: “The pain belongs to all”.
At Taksim, some militant anti Armenians arrived to try to provocate. The group close to the Workers’ Party(ex-Maoist neo-nationalist) claimed that the Armenian genocide was “an imperialist lie”. Others close to the BBP (Great Unity Party) and MHP (Nationalist Action Party), the notorious Grey Wolves also arrived. The political atmosphere was particularly tense this year a few months after an attempt to legislate to criminalize Holocaust denial denial in France.
Throughout the day, several references were also made to Sevag Balikci, a young Armenian from Istanbul, killed April 24, 2011, in Kozluk barracks of the military in eastern Turkey, shot by another soldier. Officially, this was an accident.
This article was translated from its French original as published at Le Monde Blogs.