ISTANBUL – For the first time Turks in Turkey have commemorated the mass killings of Armenians in 1915. A few hundred people joined together in ceremonies organized by IHD, one of the biggest human rights organisations in the country.
One of the commemorations took place by the train station from where on 24 April 1915 an initial convoy of Armenians left the then capital of the Ottoman Empire, heading east. Another protest was held close to the central Taksim square. The protestors had a sit-in and showed pictures of Armenians who were transported from Istanbul and never heard of again.
At the train station a counter protest was organized which was joined by former diplomats and a retired general, and where Turkish flags were waved. It didn’t cause problems because the police kept the counter protest at a distance.
The commemorators didn’t use the word ‘genocide’, but spoke of the ‘great catastrophe’. The term ‘genocide’ is controversial in this country: Turkey denies the mass killings were orchestrated from above.
Today, 24 April, is the date used worldwide to officially commemorate the mass killings. President Obama too is making a commemoration speech, and just like every year Turkey waits nervously to see if the American President will use the “g” word’. There seems little chance that he will.