ISTANBUL — Commemoration events organised by Turkish and international human rights groups, took place on April 24 in Istanbul to mark the centenary of the Armenian genocide during which more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed.
On the “Walk to Remember” through the district of Sultanahmet. marchers carried posters that read: “Recognise the Genocide”. Some held red carnations or violet crocuses, a stand-in for the purple forget-me-nots that symbolise the centenary elsewhere.
Later on Friday, a rally was held in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The ceremony was attended by an unprecedented number of people, mostly Diaspora Armenians, Kurds and Turks.
The Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Sisli district headquarters and Youth Coordination of Istanbul staged a march on April 23 commemorating the genocide. They visited the houses of some of the Armenian intellectuals who marched to death on April 24, 1915 and laid flowers there.
The participants carried banners with the inscription “Together – 1915-2015” and “Confront the Genocide,” as well as photos of Armenian intellectuals.
Holy mass in memory of the victims was held at the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchal Church. Led by Deputy Patriarch Aram Atesyan, the ceremony was also attended by Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkir. President Erdogan’s message was also read at the ceremony where white doves symbolizing peace were released and bells were rung 100 times.
In a statement to the press at the entrance of the church, Minister Bozkir said he was greatly honored to take part in the mass led by Armenian Deputy Patriarch Aram Atesyan, adding, “This is the first mass to be held officially since 1916. A representative of the Turkish government is taking part in such a ceremony for the first time”.