Turkey’s main Kurdish political party represented in parliament on Wednesday called for an official Turkish recognition of what it described as genocide of Armenians committed nearly a century ago.
According to the “Hurriyet Daily News,” the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) also urged the Turkish parliament to investigate “the massacre that took place after forced deportation of the Armenian people who lived in the Ottoman territories in 1915.”
Turkey -- A person lays a carnation on a printed sign during a demonstration marking the 98th anniversary of the massacre and deportation of Ottoman Armenians during World War I, Istanbul, 24Apr2013
“The traumas and grievances of the genocide are still fresh in the societal memory because Turkey has not confronted one of the biggest genocides of the 20th century in order to clear the society’s conscience. It has not come to terms with its own history and has not apologized to the Armenian people by admitting the reality of genocide,” the BDP said in a statement cited by the English-language daily.
There was no immediate reaction to these calls from the three main Turkish parliamentary parties, including the ruling AKP. They all support the official Turkish version of the events of 1915, which strongly denies any genocidal government policies towards Ottoman Armenians.
The BDP holds 29 seats in Turkey’s 550-member Grand National Assembly.
In a related development, dozens of people gathered in Istanbul to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. The AFP news agency reported that the crowd mostly made up of Turkish-Armenians congregated in front of the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, which was once a prison where Armenians were held before deportation during World War I.
Turkey -- A member of Dersim Armenians Association Serkan Sariatas (2nd-L) speaks to media during a ceremony to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, in the eastern city of Tunceli, 24Apr2013
Some of the activists carried the portraits of victims of genocide and unfurled banners: “The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum was a prison in 1915” and “Armenian intellectuals were imprisoned here before deportation.”
“Ten years ago, such an event was impossible in Turkey,” Benjamin Abtan, president of the European Grassroots Anti-racist Movement (EGAM), was quoted by AFP as saying.
“This shows attitudes are changing here,” he said at the event.
Similar commemorations were also reported from at least three cities in eastern Turkey that had sizable Armenian populations until 1915. In one of them, Tunceli, the genocide remembrance was organized by an association representing local descendants of those Armenians who converted to Islam to save their lives during the massacres.