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Ottoman massacre of Armenians remembered across Europe
(Agencies)
Updated: 2005-04-25 09:24

The Armenian community in France and elsewhere in Europe held solemn masses, marches and memorials on Sunday to mark the 90th anniversary of mass killings by Ottoman Turks which a growing number of countries have recognised as a genocide.

The Parisian landmark of Notre Dame cathedral hosted a requiem mass Sunday and many other gatherings took place across the city.

Some 350,000 ethnic Armenians live in France.

Visiting Armenian President Robert Kotcharian and his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, background, stand before the Armenian Monument in Paris, after laying a wreath Friday, April 22, 2005. This weekend Armenia marks the 90th anniversary of what it calls the genocide perpetrated by Turkey between 1915 and 1917, killing up to 1.5 million Armenians. Turkey rejects the claim, saying the number of deaths is inflated and that the victims were killed in civil unrest during the collapse of the empire.(AP
Visiting Armenian President Robert Kotcharian and his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, background, stand before the Armenian Monument in Paris, after laying a wreath Friday, April 22, 2005. This weekend Armenia marks the 90th anniversary of what it calls the genocide perpetrated by Turkey between 1915 and 1917, killing up to 1.5 million Armenians. Turkey rejects the claim, saying the number of deaths is inflated and that the victims were killed in civil unrest during the collapse of the empire.[AP]
The mass was followed by a meeting at an Armenian monument where on Friday French President Jacques Chirac and Armenian President Robert Kocharian placed a wreath.

French Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande told the gathering of 3,000, mostly Armenians, that he would propose a law in parliament to penalize those who deny the genocide.

"The Armenian genocide was the first of the 20th century, but, alas, not the only one. The Armenian cause is not only for Armenians, but for all those who are committed to human rights and the recognition of genocide," Hollande said.

The protesters later marched to the capital's famed Champs Elysees avenue and the nearby Turkish embassy.

People attend commemorations marking the 90th anniversary of Armenian genocide in Paris. The Armenian community in France and elsewhere in Europe held solemn masses, marches and memorials to mark the 90th anniversary of mass killings by Ottoman Turks which a growing number of countries have recognised as a genocide.(AFP
People attend commemorations marking the 90th anniversary of Armenian genocide in Paris.[AFP]
"This is a protest march against Turkey, which continues to reject it was a genocide," said Alain Saboundjian, a spokesman for an Armenian group in France.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen perished in orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart. Ankara counters that 300,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in "civil strife" during World War I.

Some 80,000 Armenians live in the Mediterranean port of Marseille, where the cornerstone of an Armenian monument due to be inaugurated next year was put in place Sunday. The stone included written messages from some of the region's ethnic Armenian children.

Armenians visit the memorial to the dead to mark the 90th anniversary of the mass killing of Armenians in Yerevan, April 24, 2005. Hundreds of thousands of people clutching tulips, carnations and daffodils climbed a hill in Armenia's capital on Sunday to lay wreaths and remember the 1.5 million they say were killed 90 years ago in Ottoman Turkey.From the top the crowds could see the heights of Mount Ararat now in eastern Turkey, the region where Armenia says its people were slaughtered in a deliberate genocide during the chaos surrounding the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The mountain is a potent symbol for the Christian nation but it lies out of reach across a fortified frontier. REUTERS
Armenians visit the memorial to the dead to mark the 90th anniversary of the mass killing of Armenians in Yerevan, April 24, 2005. Hundreds of thousands of people clutching tulips, carnations and daffodils climbed a hill in Armenia's capital on Sunday to lay wreaths and remember the 1.5 million they say were killed 90 years ago in Ottoman Turkey. From the top the crowds could see the heights of Mount Ararat now in eastern Turkey, the region where Armenia says its people were slaughtered in a deliberate genocide during the chaos surrounding the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The mountain is a potent symbol for the Christian nation but it lies out of reach across a fortified frontier.[Reuters]
"We had to wait until 2001 for France to recognise the Armenian genocide. How long will it be before Turkey does?," said regional politician Michel Vauzelles, who addressed the crowd of several thousand gathered for the occasion.

A requiem mass and a march to a proposed site of a genocide memorial took place in the central city of Lyon, while a wreath was placed at a war memorial in the northeastern city of Strasbourg.

Armenian religious and community leaders headed a cortege of around 1,000 people in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv carrying candles and red carnations.

A violinist performs in front of the Eiffel tower during the commemorations of the national day of remembrance for the victims and heroes of deportation, which is part of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, in Paris April 24, 2005. [Reuters]
A violinist performs in front of the Eiffel tower during the commemorations of the national day of remembrance for the victims and heroes of deportation, which is part of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, in Paris April 24, 2005. [Reuters]
"We want Turkey and other countries who have not already recognised the genocide to do so," said Karapiet Bagratouni, one of 3,000 Armenians in the city.

Greece recognised the massacres as a genocide in 1997 when it named April 24 as "The memorial day of the genocide of Armenians by the Turkish regime" and in Athens on Sunday a crowd of 500 including diplomats and Greek officials placed a wreath at a war memorial.

The row over whether or not to call the killings genocide has embarrassed Turkey as it readies for the start of European Union accession talks later this year.

In Germany this week members of parliament from across the political spectrum appealed to Turkey to accept the massacre of Armenians as part of its history, saying this would help its EU aspirations.

On Tuesday, Poland joined a list of 15 countries that have officially acknowledged the killings as genocide. Russia, the UN and the European parliament all recognise the massacres as genocide.



 
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