Armenians mark mass killings

Thousands pay respects to victims of killings that they want recognised as "genocide".

    Turkey says the Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks in WWI were victims of civil war and unrest [AFP]

    Armenians at the service carried placards such as "Nobody and nothing will be forgotten!" and "Genocide never gets old".

    In an address to the nation on Saturday, Serge Sarkisian, the Armenian president, described the killings as "unprecedented in its scope, monstrosity and graveness of its consequences".

    "We are grateful to all those in many countries, including Turkey, who understand the importance of averting crimes against humanity," he said.

    Unified remembrance

    Al Jazeera's correspondent Anita McNaught was in Istanbul where people had turned up to commemorate the event that Armenians around the world call "Genocide Day". 

    "It is an unusual event, this event would not have happened two years ago in Turkey at all, it is a measure of the degree to which the ability to discuss the issues here in Turkey has freed up," she said.

    in depth
      A tragic past and uncertain future
      Armenians remember mass killings
      Armenians mark 'genocide day'

    "People gathered in the square not to protest or engage in an act that might be seen as aggressive, they have come here as Turks and Armenians, and relatives of Armenians living in Turkey sitting side by side.

    "They are all here to commemorate the pain that all of Turkey shares. There are no protest banners; the slogans being used say, 'This pain is our pain, this mourning belongs to us all'."

    Several historians have described the event as the first genocide of the 20th century.

    The slaying began on April 24, 1915, they say, with the rounding up and murder of about 800 Armenian intellectuals.

    The Ottoman authorities then evicted Armenians from their homes in actions that the historians say expanded into the mass slaughter of the Armenian population.

    Turkish perspective

    Scholars sympathetic to the Turkish interpretation of the events reject the use of the word "genocide" to describe the kilings.

    Debate over what to call the massacre has disrupted relations between Armenia and Turkey for decades.

    Turkey has warned the US administration of diplomatic consequences if it fails to prevent the passage of a congressional resolution that would recognise the "killings of Armenians genocide".

    The foreign affairs committee of the US House of Representatives last month passed a resolution declaring the killings "genocide", but it is unclear whether the chamber will vote on it when it is passed on.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.