AGBU Europe, EGAM from France, Turkish Dur De and IHD Human Rights Association Delegations in Yerevan

For the second consecutive year, AGBU Europe, EGAM (European Grassroots Antiracist Movement) from France and Turkish DurDe (Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism) and IHD, a Turkish Human Rights Association, initiated a series of events in Istanbul and Armenia to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. Headed by these organizations, thousands gathered at Istanbul's Taksim Square on April 24 to pay tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turkey. Following the events in Turkey, members of the international delegation headed to Armenia to visit the Genocide Memorial and Museum, meet with non-governmental organizations dealing with Armenian-Turkish relations and share their impressions and opinions during a press conference. On April 25, a delegation of 10 people representing AGBU Europe, EGAM, DurDe and IHD arrived in Yerevan. The series of commemoration events in Armenia began with a press conference by Benjamin Abtan, President of EGAM (France), Levent Sensever (DurDe, Turkey), Diana Hancaro (Hayk, Germany) and Hovik Eordekian, Interim Director of AGBU Armenia, at Armenpress Press Club on April 26. “It’s the second year that AGBU Europe, together with Turkish and European human rights organizations and NGOs, organizes a series of events in Turkey to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. The events attract more and more people, who come united for justice, human rights protection and recognition of the Armenian Genocide”, said Hovik Eordekian. EGAM President Benjamin Abtan said, “We are very often asked, why we, being non-Armenians, seek recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The answer is very simple: Genocide is not an issue of one nation or one ethnic group, it’s an issue for all mankind. Fighting against Genocide denial we fight against Genocide. Genocide denial is the main ideology of the Turkish government. But there are individuals and organizations in Turkey that have their own opinion on this and are by our side.” Speaking of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent statement Abtan said, “Erdogan’s statement means nothing to me. Of course, the tone is different, but there is denial in the statement, which is already violence against history and against mankind. No society is strong enough to stop the movement that is uprising in Turkey and no country is naive enough to be misled by Erdogan’s statement and ignore the facts”. Abtan stated that he expressed the same ideas and used the same words in Turkey. Answering a question about the lack of confidence and trust among Armenian society towards Turkish organizations, representative of DurDe Levent Sensever said, “There has been complete silence over this issue in Turkey for over 90 years and this is serious grounds for non-confidence towards similar Turkish organizations. We understand that. Today, we have a serious issue of convincing even the smartest and most advanced members of Turkish society that the Armenian Genocide in fact did happen. We – those who recognized the Armenian Genocide – are still a minority in Turkish society”. Speaking about compensation Sensever stated, “We have started working with a number of Diasporan-Armenian organizations and some of them have began operating in Turkey. A 10-point document representing the claims of the Diaspora Armenians, including the right to citizenship, property, recognition, apology, etc had been discussed during a recent conference”. Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism (DURDE!) was founded in 2007, after the assassination of Hrant Dink, the main objective of which is carrying out various campaigns to help the 1915 events be recognized as Genocide and make Turkey apologize for it. Sensever mentions that the number of people gathering in Taksim Square of Istanbul to commemorate the victims of the Genocide is growing year by year since 2011. During the press conference, Diana Hancaro, representative of AGBU Europe and “Haik” organization, who is a descendant of Genocide survivors, stated that the main aim of AGBU Europe is the worldwide recognition of the Genocide. “I live in Germany, my ancestors had lived in Istanbul and migrated to Europe during the years of the Genocide. This is the first time I am in Armenia yet I feel like I have returned to my family. ” After the press conference, members of the delegation visited the Tsitsernakabert Memorial and laid flowers at the eternal fire, commemorating the victims of the Armenian Genocide and with a minute of silence honored the victims. Later on they toured with the temporary exhibition, entitled “The First World War, Partners, Figures, Massacres ” dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First World War at the museum’s temporary exhibition hall. European and Turkish public figures met with Genocide Museum Director Hayk Demoyan and discussed the possibilities of organizing exhibitions dedicated to the Armenian Genocide, as well as academic discussions in Istanbul. On the same day, a meeting with a number of NGOs, politicians and speakers on Turkish issues took place at AGBU Armenia. Issues dealing with the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, participation of different Armenian NGO’s in the commemoration events organized in Istanbul each year, encouraging Turkish civil society to recognize the Armenian Genocide, as well as Turkish internal policies were discussed during the meeting. Members of the delegation later visited the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and toured Yerevan. It’s worth mentioning, that a number of European, Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian public figures, intellectuals and representatives of civil society have signed the joint petition of AGBU Europe, EGAM, DurDE and IHD.







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