Tens of thousands of Armenians rallied Monday for the annual remembrance of the massacre of more than 1 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
Marchers gathered at a memorial in Yerevan to lay flowers. Some burned a Turkish flag with torches.
April 24 is the day most Armenians regard as the start of the massacre in 1915, with the first arrests of Armenians by Turkish authorities in what was then Constantinople.
Between then and 1923, 1.5 million Armenians were killed through forced deportation, torture, starvation and outright murder.
Armenian culture restored
“The Armenians’ physical, cultural and political losses are immeasurable,” Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said Monday. “The biggest loss is the people who were members of an ancient, rich and authentic civilization.”
Sargsyan said those who survived the killings and their descendents successfully restored Armenian culture and science.
“Within this period of time, we gave the world a whole constellation of creative geniuses and the world learned what happened to us through the great Armenians.”
In Washington, President Donald Trump put out a statement calling the Armenian massacre one of the 20th century’s worst mass atrocities.
“We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again. We welcome the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future.”
Turkey denies organized campaign
Armenians call the killings a genocide and urge everyone who talks about the massacre to use that word, including the United States which has yet to officially recognize the deaths as genocide.
But Turkey denies there was any organized campaign to obliterate the Armenian people.
It says the number of Armenians killed during and after World War I was far fewer than 1.5 million and said the victims died in the fighting between the Ottoman military and Russia.