1.5 mil. Ar­me­nian deaths re­mem­bered in NYC


Thou­sands of peo­ple packed Times Square on Sun­day to de­mand the U. S. gov­ern­ment rec­og­nize the deaths of up to 1.5 mil­lion Ar­me­ni­ans dur­ing World War I as geno­cide.

The rally marked the cen­ten­nial of the killings un­der the Ot­toman Em­pire — to­day’s Turkey.

“It’s hu­man­ity’s is­sue, it’s not just about Ar­me­nian peo­ple; his­tory con­tin­ues to re­peat it­self,” said Nancy Guetssoyan, 28, of the U.S. state of New Jer­sey. “The U.S. gov­ern­ment has not de­clared it geno­cide be­cause they’re al­lies with Turkey.”

The age-old in­ter­na­tional dis­pute over the Ar­me­nian deaths fo­cuses on the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of one word: geno­cide.

Pope Fran­cis re­cently called the killings geno­cide, a view widely shared by schol­ars. Turkey, how­ever, de­nies that the deaths con­sti­tuted geno­cide, say­ing the toll has been in­flated and that those killed were vic­tims of civil war and un­rest.

Fri­day marked the 1915 start­ing date of what Ar­me­ni­ans say were the ex­e­cu­tions of hun­dreds of in­tel­lec­tu­als and com­mu­nity lead­ers in Con­stantino­ple, now Istanbul. The killings con­tin­ued dur­ing and af­ter World War I, ac­com­pa­nied by forced la­bor and de­por­ta­tion of women, chil­dren and the el­derly, Ar­me­ni­ans al­lege.

Turkey has said the death toll has been in­flated, and that those killed were vic­tims of civil war and un­rest. Last week, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan in­sisted that his na­tion’s an­ces- tors never com­mit­ted geno­cide.

Eth­nic Ar­me­ni­ans living in the United States are push­ing for a for­mal vote in the U. S. Congress that would clas­sify the killings as geno­cide.

Rul­ing party Sen. Charles Schumer, spoke to the crowd on Sun­day, say­ing, “I stand with you in mak­ing sure the de­niers are not given any place un­der the sun.”

Speak­ers in­cluded sev­eral Jewish lead­ers as well as Taner Ak­cam, a Turk­ish-born scholar who sup­ports the Ar­me­nian cause as a pro­fes­sor at Clark Uni­ver­sity, in Worces­ter, Mas­sachusetts.

“It is very trou­bling to see that the United States has still not rec­og­nized the Ar­me­nian geno­cide,” he said, adding that the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is the cru­cial role of Turkey in U.S. se­cu­rity strat­egy.


Ani Ber­be­rian, of Montville, New Jer­sey, marches in mid­town Man­hat­tan in New York to mark the cen­ten­nial of the killings of as many 1.5 mil­lion Ar­me­ni­ans un­der the Ot­toman Em­pire — to­day’s Turkey — on Sun­day, April 26.

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