Victims of the 1915 Armenian genocide were commemorated on Saturday in a vigil organised by the Human Rights Association in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed).
Each week relatives of Diyarbakır’s enforced disappearance victims come together to demonstrate. However, Saturday’s vigil focused on the annual 24 April Armenian genocide remembrance day.
The demonstrators recounted the life of Tanile Varujan (Daniel Varoujan), an Armenian poet killed in 1915.
In 1914 Varujan had founded a group called ‘Mehian’ with fellow writers in Istanbul. A year later he was deported towards the central Anatolian province of Çankırı and, at 31 years old, was tortured to death.
Varujan was one of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian victims of mass killings committed between 1915 and 1917.
On 24 April 1915 over 200 Armenian intellectuals were arrested in Istanbul and deported. The date now marks the annual remembrance day.
Armenian genocide commemorations were banned in Istanbul for a second time this year.
Istanbul’s governor’s office announced that the commemorative events planned in the district of Kadıköy were “not deemed appropriate to be organised”.
“By banning our commemoration event, the Governor’s Office has clearly shown that it is against the dynamics of democratisation. We call on the governorship to abandon this decision,” the organisers announced.
“There is no reasonable justification for the banning of our commemoration this year as it was last year. It is unacceptable to ban this event, in which we commemorate those we lost in 1915 with respect and tranquillity,” the organising platform continued.
“Confronting 1915 is a compulsory step that must be taken today in order to build democracy, equality and sisterly coexistence on solid foundations,” it added.
Despite the ban, the Human Rights Association’s (IHD) Commission Against Racism and Discrimination plans to make a press statement on 24 April in Istanbul’s Taksim.