Turkish police on Wednesday blocked protesters trying to hold a commemoration in Istanbul of the 1915 Armenian Genocide and forced deportation of Armenians.
Armenians worldwide commemorate the massacres on April 24 – the day in 1915 when thousands of Armenian intellectuals were rounded up, arrested and later executed.
About 100 protesters, including some French and European Parliament lawmakers, attempted to hold a ceremony in Istanbul to mark the massacres, but were prevented by police, an AFP reporter said.
“It has been nine years now that these commemorations of the Armenian genocide are being held here, and it is the first time that the state prevents us,” said Benjamin Abtan, one of the activists at the Istanbul rally.
Eren Keskin, co-chairwoman of the Istanbul Human Rights Association Istanbul branch, which was a co-organiser of the ceremony, condemned the actions of the authorities as they were prevented from holding the event in the Sultanahmet district, the Morning Star said.
Istanbul-Armenian MP Garo Paylan, representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), accused the Turkish state of denying the genocide while “causing other genocides today” and vowed never to give up the struggle for justice despite the ban.
Paylan, who was expelled from the Turkish Parliament in 2017 after using the term genocide in a debate, said the ban was “a result of the democratic climate, the darkness in Turkey.”
He added: “Every crime which is not confronted repeats itself and, unfortunately, this crime is also repeating itself today.”