On the 108th anniversary of the deportation and genocide that began when the Ottoman authorities started to force Armenian intellectuals into exile on 24 April 1915, a number of political parties, rights organisations and politicians from Turkey and abroad have once again called on Turkey to confront and recognise the Armenian genocide.
US President Joe Biden’s use of the term ‘genocide’ again in his Monday statement, as in previous years, has caused anger among the Turkish authorities. “Political charlatans are on stage again attempting to distort history,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in response to Biden’s statement.
“Today, we pause to remember the lives lost during the Meds Yeghern* – the Armenian genocide – and renew our pledge to never forget,” the White House statement reads.
Nathalie Loiseau, a member of the European Parliament, in an interview with Armenpress, pointed to the positive atmosphere between the two countries after the devastating February earthquakes that hit southern Turkey.
The MEP said that Turkey should consider the recognition of the Armenian genocide in order to be accepted and viewed as a great country, since it would be a signal that it wanted to build a peaceful future despite its violent past.
Another European politician who suggested that Turkey should recognise the Armenian genocide as a first step to normalising relations with Armenia was the Sweden Democrats Party’s legislator Björn Söder. Söder said on Monday that “the past must be acknowledged in order to move forward”.
The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) said in a written statement that genocide was a crime that could not be denied and that clear evidence of the deaths of more than one and a half million people was confirmed by the population records of the Ottoman Empire. The Congress once again called on Turkey to acknowledge the trauma of the Armenians.
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also urged the Turkish government to recognise the genocide, saying, “Confronting historical truths, apologising to the victimised peoples and faiths and practising restorative justice, understanding one another and healing historical wounds with sincerity are indispensable steps towards a common future.”
The Diyarbakır (Amed) Bar Association also recalled that 24 April 1915 marked the beginning of a great catastrophe in which hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed or left to die, and called for an “initiation of the process of uncovering the truth”.
“Denial is the most comprehensive, most effective, most persisten and most widespread violation of human rights because it is the source, encouragement and incentive for countless human rights violations with a compound effect,” said the Human Rights Association (İHD) in a press statement on Monday.
The Peoples’ Democratic Congress issued a statement emphasising that what had happened in 1915 was “clearly genocide” and argued that the Armenian genocide has become a symbol of genocidal policies:
“Since the genocide of the Armenians could not be confronted, the Assyrian, Greek, Chaldean and later the Alevi and Kurdish peoples experienced suffering with similar violence. Confronting the massacre and the pain is a requirement for Turkey’s democratic future and the culture of coexistence”.
* Meds Yeghern, literally “great crime”, is an Armenian term for genocide,