100 Years Later, Armenia Remembers Mass Killings

But certain countries—notably Turkey and the US—still won't call it 'genocide'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2015 9:16 AM CDT
People lay flowers at a memorial to Armenians killed by the Ottoman Turks as they mark the centenary of the mass killings in Yerevan, Armenia, Friday, April 24, 2015.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
camera-icon View 6 more images

(Newser) – Turkey may not recognize the killings of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, but other world leaders do and are paying tribute to the 100th anniversary of the massacre today, the BBC reports. "We will never forget the tragedies that your people have endured," French President Francois Hollande said at a memorial ceremony near the Armenian capital of Yerevan, per the broadcaster, while Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "There cannot be any justification for mass murder of people." Today marks the day in 1915 when hundreds of Armenian intellectuals were arrested; it's viewed as the first step in the deaths of Christian Armenians by Ottoman Turks, an event that's long rankled feathers between Armenia and Turkey: Armenia calls the killings "genocide," while Turkey says many deaths took place during WWI battles and that ethnic Turks died, too, the BBC notes.

One person raising Armenian ire with his comments: President Obama. Although he refers to the killings as "one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century" in a statement released today, he refrains from using the word "genocide"—a semantic decision that's not playing well with Armenians. "President Obama's exercise in linguistic gymnastics ... is unbecoming of the standard he himself set and that of a world leader today," the president of the Armenian Assembly of America said in a statement. Meanwhile, even Turkey is marking the anniversary in its own way: The country will hold a memorial service today to "share the pain" of the Armenians, as the Turkish PM puts it, and one of Turkey's oldest newspapers today sported the headline (in Armenian) that said "Never Again," the BBC reports. (Armenia didn't like Obama's wording on the matter six years ago, either.)

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |