Armenians March in Yerevan on Genocide Remembrance Day; Turkey, Azerbaijan Flags Burned

Armenians marched in the capital Yerevan on Sunday, commemorating the mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians more than a century ago under the Ottoman Turkish rule.

The march was taken out from the central square to the memorial complex erected in memory of the victims of the genocide in 1915. Armenian activists who took part in the march burned the flags of Turkey and Azerbaijan, the Associate Press reported. Some 10,000 people participated in the night-time march, holding torches.

Armenian Genocide
The eternal flame at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day 2014. Wikimedia Commons

The public march was held a day before Armenia formally observed Genocide Remembrance Day on Monday.

What is Armenian Genocide?

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the campaign of deportation and mass killing of Armenian Christians was carried out by the Young Turk movement in Ottoman Turkey.

Armenian genocide
Map of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. Each size shows a massacre. There are three types of massacre: in a control centre (red dot), in a station (pink dot), in a concentration and annihilation center (black dot). The size of the dot shows the relative number of killed Armenians. Each pair of swords shows an area of Armenian resistance: greater resistance (red swords) or lesser resistance (black swords). The different size of swords is to save space into the map, it means nothing. Dots in Black Sea representing Armenians (mainly women and children) drowned into the sea (see Armenian Genocide for references). Semhur/ Wikimedia Commons/Sourced with the help of NASA Shuttle Radar Topography Mission

As per the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), "more than a million" Armenians died under the persecution of the Ottoman empire, which is modern day Turkey, during 1915-16. The Armenians were driven en masse from eastern Anatolia to the Syrian desert by the Turks. Thousands of them were killed while more perished due to starvation and diseases.

While historians around the world say the mass murder was carried out in order to annihilate the Christian Armenian people, Turkey has held the view that there was no systematic plan of ethnic cleansing.

Armenian genocide
Armenian victims of the Armenian Genocide with decapitated bodies besides the stakes with heads pinned. Wikimedia Commons

The Ottoman Empire had turned paranoid in its waning days and suspected the Armenian Christian minority was conspiring Ankara's adversaries like Russia during the heyday of the World War I.

Turkey officially admits that more than 300,000 Armenians died in the crackdown on the minority but steadfastly refuses to accept that it was a genocide. Throughout his presidency, Erdogan has asked Turkish people to defend the country against those who spread the 'genocide lie'.

Armenian genocide
Soldiers playing with the skulls of Armenian victims of the Armenian Genocide Wikimedia Commons

US Recognizes Armenian Genocide

In a landmark move in April 2021, US President Joe Biden recognized the Armenian genocide of 1915, becoming the first US president to use the term 'genocide' to describe the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenian Christians massacred by the Ottoman Turks during the World War I.

Major world powers like France, Germany, Canada and Russia had already recognized the Armenian genocide.

The decision came nearly a year and a half after the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to recognize the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 as genocide. The House voted 405-11 in favor of the resolution in October 2019, as it finally resisted the long and painstaking Turkish lobbying against calling the killing of 1.5 million people by the Ottoman empire as genocide. The Congress move came years after several US states had decided to term the mass killing as genocide. The Congress had been soft-pedalling the issue as it did not want to rub the Nato ally the wrong way.

"We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring ... And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms," Biden said.