Ankara, (AFP) -- Several thousand people gathered in Ankara on Sunday to denounce an Armenian campaign for the recognition of the massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900s as genocide.
Holding red Turkish flags, the participants filled the capital's Tandogan square, which remained closed to traffic for several hours.
The protestors shouted nationalist slogans directed at Armenia and also at France. France's National Assembly passed a resolution in January which recognized the killings as genocide, raising tension between Ankara and Paris. One academic who spoke at the protest stressed that during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians, then part of the empire, massacred tens of thousands of Turks in a rebellion for independence in eastern Anatolia.
Turkey categorically rejects claims of genocide, saying that around 300,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in internal fighting when Armenians sided with invading Russian troops to carve out an Armenian state in the region. Armenians, however, maintain that 1.5 million people died in orchestrated massacres.