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Armenian Genocide Memorial Day

Andrei Sharii presented this programme. The Istanbul Radio Freedom Correspondent Elena Solntseva took part.

Andrei Sharii: Today, Armenians are remembering the victims of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. Memorial services have been held across the world, but particularly in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Over 20 countries ( including Russia) and international organizations recognize the events of 1915-1923 as genocide. According to estimates, during this period, approximately 1.5 million Armenians were killed.

On the 24th April 1915 in Instanbul more than 800 representatives of the Armenian intelligentsia were arrested and subsequently shot. During the following two years from a population of approximately 3 million Armenians in the eastern regions of the ottoman empire, were killed 1.5 million. More than 600,000 became refugees. Turkey to this day refuses to recognize these events as genocide, claiming that they were simply victims of the war. The political position of Ankara remains constant, although this topic is now more and more debated in the country at large.

Elena Solntseva : the Shushlei area in Instanbul til this day is called the Armenian quarter. About a hundred years ago, in this area, lived the largest Armenian community in Turkey - 150,000people. At an exhibition of old photographs in Istanbul, Armenian churches schools, newspapers, the Armenian theatre which held plays in Armenian language. By some miracle, an Armenian church remains a small Armenian school and even a few shops, where you can buy classics of Armenian literature.

Armenian Arthur Tash, resident of Istanbul, has the microphone

Arthur Tash:During the events of 1915 many Armenians were killed in the East. Armenians in Istanbul suffered less than others, though due to fear, people sold everything, left their houses and left the city. Therefore, there is no longer an Armenian community. From a population of a million Armenians in Turkey, remain no more than 60,000.

Elena Soltseva : The newspaper Argo is the only printed media in Turkey in Armenian. The steep spiral staircase leads to the editing office on the fourth floor. Its too hard a climb, joke the grey haired editors of the newspaper, which in the last eight years has been closed many times. The main editor, is the journalist Gran Dink who is currently subject to court proceedings- eight court cases and six conditional sentences.

Gran Dink: the last court case against me was the result of events in Urfa, a small town in the east of Turkey. Ata conference, I refused to sing with everyone else the Turkish national anthem I am happy, that I am a Turk, I explained that I feel Armenian not Turkish. This was not the first time that I have been taken to court. I wrote in an article that on the 24th April all Armenians traditionally remember their ancestors and visit their graves. Turkish Armenians do not do this, Why? Perhaps I presented this question too bluntly. They summoned me to court, but then released me. We must very carefully write about these events carefully. We dont use the word genocide. If I wrote that word just once, then our newspaper would be closed the very next day.

Elena Solntseva: The Turkish authorities do not recognize the elimination of over a million Armenians. Any mention of the work genocide is punishable. Anyone talking about these events using the word genocide in a public place, risks being taken to court on the basis of the 301st clause of the Turkish Law Codex Insulting the Turkish Nation.

The main columnist of the newspaper Milliyet Khasan Jemal , claims that one of the victims of this law, is the Turkish writer Arkham Tamuk, who is popular in Europe.

Khasan Jemal : I have been condemned for discussing the genocide. In an interview given to a Swiss publication. He said, that in the Ottoman empire, during the years of the First World War, more than a million Armenians were killed. This statement caused widespread controversy leaving me stuck between two fires. The international community recognizes the genocide of the Armenians but Turkey doesnt. This desire not to recognize the events of 1915 onwards as genocide is linked to Turkeys wish not to compensate victims families and possible territorial claims by deported Armenians.

Elena Solntseva: The genocide of the Armenians has been recognized by the parliaments of 18 countries ( including Russia but not the UK). The recognition of the Armenian Genocide is one of the most important conditions for the Turkeys possible entry into the European Union. Officially , however, Ankara calls the genocide far fetched. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has allocated more than 15 million dollars for the creation of propaganda websites and the publishing of books in foreign languages. In one of Istanbuls book shops, there is historical literature on this topic. On the shelves lie more than thirty publications plentifully illustrated with photos from the archives. In one Turkish Pashas (leaders) are fighting against some Armenians.

There are several versions of the events in Turkish sources. One of these, particularly popular among journalists and writers, describes the treachery of the Armenians during the First World war. Armenians, most Turkish historians consider, allied with the Russians and so were punished for this. The chairman of the Turkish Council of Historians, Professor Yusef Gala Goglu, has written more than 10 books and about 20 articles on these topics,

Professor Yusef Gala Golu : I have found documents in the archives, confirming that at this time there were battles which Armenians took part in. Moreover, militarized divisions of Armenians actively fought with the turks. So what could we do? Without question - attack!

Elena Solntseva: More and more journalists and writers in Turkey now hold different points of view . Nationalists have suffered defeat in litigations against Armenians. The litigation begun by nationalist circles of Turkey against the well journalist of Murat Belg, who organized an academic conference in September last year on the Armenian question in September of the last year ended in defeat. In the presence of more than a hundred Turkish academics from the main Istanbul universities, the journalist condemned the events of 1915 onwards as genocide. " Love Turkey or leave ", - nationalists shouted at him in court.However, the journalist was aquitted. In Instanbul they have opened the Armenian museum, journalists have stopped calling Kurdish separatists - descendants of the Armenians and on the main street of Istanbul, you can hear songs by Sharl Azhavura, whose songs were forbidden even during the 70s due to his Armenian origin. -->

Source: www.svobodanews.ru >


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