THE INITIATIVE

European Commemorations of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey 

Leading Organisations 

    •   durde-logo DurDe ! : Founded in 2007 right after the      murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, is a Turkish network combating against racism, nationalism and hate crimes in Turkey. It has been organising Commemorations of the Armenian Genocide on Taksim Square in Istanbul since 2010.
    • AGBU AGBU Europe : The Armenian General  Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit organisation devoted to preserving and promoting the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs.
    • logo egamEGAM : The European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM) gathers the main antiracist NGOs from 30 countries in Europe in order to structure the fight against racism, antisemitism, racial discrimination and genocide denial at a truly European level.

Context 

It has now been nearly hundred years that the Ottoman Empire ordered and organized the killing of the empire’s Armenian population. The Armenian people were the victims of a genocide which would soon serve as a gruesome reference for those that would follow.

Since then, the Turkish Republic is still refusing to recognize the genocide and is actively fighting those who try to do so. This prevents citizens from Armenian and Turkish origins from fully addressing the past as well as issues of identity. It is also an obstacle to the fight again racism in Turkish society and for the improvements in Human Rights and Freedom of speech.

Since 2010, DurDe! has been organising the commemorations of the Armenian Genocide on Taksim Square in Istanbul, thus daring to open a risky path towards recognition and democratisation in Turkey. In 2013, it called for European support and participation in order to place the issue in the context of European values and enhance the impact of the initiative.

 commemo

April 24th – European Delegation to the Commemorations of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey

In 2013 and 2014 and for the first time in 98 years, DurDe!, EGAM and AGBU Europe led a delegation of 25 European antiracist leaders and leaders from the Armenian Diaspora to attend the commemorations.

Civil Society leaders from 13 countries came to Istanbul to :

    • Support democratising efforts by Turkish Civil Society
  • Raise awareness among European leaders on the situation in Turkey

For 4 days, the delegation met and exchanged with Turkish civil society organizations (Human Rights, Muslim, Armenian and Kurdish NGOs), organised a conference on the recognition of the Genocide in Sehir University and a Press conference and participated in the Commemorations, which gathered 4 000 people instead of hundreds in past years.

The initiative had considerable impacts :

    • Larger attendance at the Commemorations
  • Large media coverage in Turkish, European and International media
  • Opening paths for recognition and democratisation of Turkish society

Plans for 2015 Commemorations : A step towards political recognition

In April 2015, DurDe!, EGAM and AGBU will renew the initiative by sending an even larger delegation to the Commemorations in Turkey. However, it now appears that European as well as Turkish civil societies have opened the doors for structured dialogue leaving the political scenes as the only places where recognition appears problematic.

2015 plans include :

    • Delegation of 40 European, Turkish and Armenian Civil Society leaders to the Commemorations in Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Van and Yerevan.
  • Live and simultaneous screening of the Commemorations in Yerevan and Istanbul. Large screens will be displayed on the public squares in Yerevan and Istanbul thus connecting both commemorations
  • The first ever official commemorations in Turkey, at the local level in collaboration with cities of Van and Diyarbakir.
  • 3 conferences in Universities in Istanbul, Ankara and Diyarbakir between before April 2015 with the participation of major Turkish and European intellectuals. The conferences will be the opportunity for the universities to host Exhibitions on Armenian heritage and culture.
  • Online petition with a text signed by major European, Turkish and Armenian intellectuals and Nobel Prize winners.
  • Conference in Paris in September 2015 to target French Armenians and decision makers.
  • International Seminar on Memory issues at the Memorial in Yerevan in October 2015 in partnership with other European Memorials and Research centres.