It has been one hundred years since the genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire – a massacre in which a million and a half Armenians were murdered.
For one hundred years too many, the denial of this crime has been at the heart of the policy and diplomacy of the Turkish state, which was founded in part on the expropriation of the Armenians and the destruction of their culture.
One hundred years on, the denial or the condoning of this genocide are still causing victims, feeding violent nationalism and racism, breeding conflict and stifling democracy and freedom of expression in Turkey.
For several years, a growing number of voices have made themselves heard at the heart of civil society in Turkey, with increasing support from European civil society, to recognize the reality of the genocide and to commemorate this crime in Turkey itself. It is in this context that, since 2010, commemorations of the Armenian genocide have been held in Turkey.
This year, the Turkish state has cynically planned commemorations of the battle of Gallipoli on April 24 in a new attempt to overshadow the Armenian genocide. In addition, Turkish officials are engaged in a charm offensive to prevent international involvement in the commemorations of the Armenian genocide.
We Europeans, Armenians, Turks and Kurds, who have initiated, organized, supported or participated in these commemorations, call on all those who care for the truth to commemorate together, peacefully, in Istanbul, on April 24the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians.
The commemoration of this genocide concerns not only Turks and Armenians, but all of humanity. Today, the front line in the fight against genocide denial is also at the heart of Turkish society. Our shared campaign is universalist in character. It is a future-oriented campaign for solidarity, for justice and for the promotion of democracy.
It is a campaign of solidarity among all those who fight for historical truth. The dividing line is not between Turks and Armenians, but between those who fight against denial and those who promote it, irrespective of their origins or nationalities.
This is a campaign for justice. Genocide is the most violent political act which racism can lead to, and denial is a part of the act itself. To fight against denial is to fight racism and therefore for a more equal and just society.
This is a campaign for the promotion of democracy. To remember those who disappeared is an act of humanity and of symbolic reparation that involves all of us. To remember in Turkey is to contribute to freedom of expression and to question the very foundations of the undemocratic nature of power in this country.
We call on all those who share these values and this vision to join us and commemorate in Istanbul on April 24th the one hundredth anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
Benjamin Abtan, President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement – EGAM,
Alexis Govciyan & Nicolas Tavitian, President & Director of the Armenian General benevolent Union – AGBU-Europe,
Levent Sensever, Spokesperson of Durde (Turkey)