U.S. actor and human rights advocate George Clooney called for greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide before attending Sunday’s main official ceremony in Armenia that commemorated its 101st anniversary.
Clooney stood alongside President Serzh Sarkisian and other Armenian dignitaries during a remembrance service held at the Tsitsernakabert genocide memorial in Yerevan. They laid flowers around its eternal fire surrounded by 12 inward-bending columns.
Like Sarkisian, Clooney wore the Armenian remembrance brooch -- a purple forget-me-not flower -- on his jacket.
The Oscar-winning actor said the 1915 slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians is “also a part of the world's history” when he addressed an international conferenceon genocide prevention held in Yerevan on Saturday. “When someone is trying to annihilate a whole human race, culture, people, that's genocide, there can be no other version of it,” he declared.
“I think it is ridiculous not to talk about it in terms of genocide, because, of course, it was,” Clooney added in a clear reference to Turkey’s continuing vehement denial of the Armenian genocide.
Later on Sunday, Clooney was due to announce the winner of a new humanitarian award that was created by three prominent Diaspora Armenians last year in memory of the Armenian genocide. The Hollywood star co-chairs the selecting committee for the award known as the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. It is meant to honor people who risk their lives to help others
“I thought, what a great idea to be able to find people who, risk their lives at times, but certainly give up virtually everything in their life in the service of helping others. And to find a way to celebrate that,” Clooney told the Yerevan forum.
Clooney’s Lebanese-born wife Amal, who is a prominent human rights lawyer, has represented Armenia in a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case stemming from a Turkish politician’s public denial of the Armenian genocide voiced in Switzerland.