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|Genocide Commemoration Disruption Condemned
For immediate release, Ottawa, 9 May 2014
On April 24, 2014, a commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on Parliament Hill and in front of the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa, was disrupted by a group of counter-protestors aimed at disturbing and silencing the event. Voices in Dialogue strongly condemns the organization of this unethical action made to coincide with this solemn occasion. We call upon Canadian politicians and law enforcement agencies, as well as on the Turkish Embassy, to ensure that this will never reoccur.
Commemorations are held on April 24 worldwide to mark the day when the Ottoman Ittihadist government arrested more than 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Istanbul, thereby starting the murder and deportation process that resulted in the destruction of the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian Genocide was also marked this year in Istanbul and Diyarbakır. Though small in attendance compared to events organized elsewhere, these solemn gatherings were the largest of the April 24 commemorations that are regularly being held in Turkey for the last several years. Voices in Dialogue is encouraged that April 24 commemorations are becoming increasingly more prevalent in Turkey. We believe that these remembrances offer a chance to fulfill the difficult work of memory and reconciliation which lies ahead, to come to terms with our past, heal our traumas and set down the path toward normalization.
The focus of Voices in Dialogue is to remove barriers erected between our peoples and to ensure a commitment to upholding respect, justice and historical truth. We took notice of the Turkish PM Erdogan’s statement released in nine languages on April 23, 2014 which characterizes the consequences of the relocation policy of the wartime Ottoman government as inhumane, offers condolences to the grandchildren of Armenians who were killed in 1915, and calls for respect and compassion regarding the loss of Armenian lives. Against this background, we were perplexed and dismayed by the hate and extreme disrespect exhibited by groups which counter-protested against the April 24 commemorations in front of Parliament Hill and the Turkish Embassy this year. The open and tacit support extended by the Turkish Embassy to these groups is in clear contradiction with the Turkish PM’s call for respect and compassion for Armenians killed.
Voices in Dialogue calls on the Turkish government to act on its recent words, and to stop Turkish lobbying organizations from denying and ridiculing the pain of Armenians. We call on the Canadian government and the City of Ottawa to balance the need for public order with the public interest to commemorate this crime against humanity – a historical event officially recognized as genocide by Canada since 2004. We find it regrettable that the Ottawa Police and the RCMP, however inadvertently, became instruments in propagating the misplaced notion that there are two sides to the historical truth of 1915 by allowing counter-protestors on the ground on the day of April 24 and by erecting barriers to separate people. We reiterate our position, shared by both Canada and Turkey, that April 24 commemorations are solemn occasions requiring utmost respect and compassion.
Voices in Dialogue – Ottawa, May 9, 2014
Voices in Dialogue (ViD) is a non-partisan organization inspired by the life and vision of Hrant Dink. Established in 2007, it promotes open and peaceful dialogue among different peoples whose roots are found in Anatolia, notably those with Turkish, Armenian, and Kurdish origin. Voices in Dialogue is on Facebook and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.