Armenian-Americans waving flags and chanting, “Turkey supports ISIS,” marked the anniversary of the Ottoman Empire’s genocide of some 1.5 million Armenians outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.
More than 100 years later, protesters said they are still seeking justice and international recognition of what some call the “Armenian Holocaust” in the nation’s capital and in cities across the country and around the world.
In D.C., protesters said they are speaking out against Muslim majority Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for his refusal to recognize the mass killings, which began on April 24, 1915.
Today’s Armenia has a 97.9 percent Christian population.
As Breitbart News has reported, Turkey’s ties to terrorism are well documented, including in an interview with Iraqi National Police Brigadier General Are al-Zebari in October 2018. He said ISIS was being led by foreign fighters — Chechens, Afghans, Syrians, and Pakistanis — based inside Turkey. The protesters may have also meant to compare the Islamic State’s attempts to commit genocide against Christians and Yazidis with their plight in the 20th century.
TASC [Turkish American Steering Committee] has a track record of using loud dance music, songs, shouting, and even air-horns to drown out speakers at annual April 24th demonstrations. This year they have, for the first time, secured the approval of the U.S. National Park Service to engage in their disruptive activities from an area adjacent to the Armenian Genocide protest, within the actual confines of Sheridan Circle. This traffic circle, across the street from the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, is infamous internationally as the site where, less than two years ago, Turkish President Erdogan’s bodyguards brutally beat peaceful American protesters.
The organizer of the Armenian Genocide protest – the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Ani Chapter – was joined by the Armenian National Committee of America in arguing vigorously against the Park Service granting a permit for a counter-protest at Sheridan Circle, on Constitutional and public safety grounds. Over these strenuous objections, the Park Service has permitted TASC to occupy roughly a third of Sheridan Circle.
Arab News sought experts to comment on the anniversary.
“Every Armenian is affected by the repeated massacres that occurred in the Ottoman Empire as family members perished,” Joseph Kechichian, senior fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, said in the Arab News report.
“My own paternal grandmother was among the victims,” Kechichian said. “We never kissed her hand, not even once. She was always missed, and we spoke about her all the time. My late father had teary eyes each and every time he thought of his mother.”
“The other significant consequence of the Armenian Genocide is the denial that successive Turkish governments have practiced, even though the last Ottoman rulers acknowledged it and actually tried a number of officials who were found guilty,” Kechichian said.
“Denial translates into a second genocide, albeit a psychological one,” Kechichian said. “Eventually, righteous Turks — and there are a lot of them — will own up to this dark chapter of their history and come to terms with it, but it seems we’re not there yet.”
To date, according to the armeniangenocide.org website, only 28 countries have officially recognized the mass murders as “genocide,” and the United States is one of the countries that has not done so.
The U.S. Congress has made moves to put official recognition in place, according to CNSNews.com.
“Although the United States does not recognize the genocide there are two bipartisan resolutions — H.R. 296 and S.Res.150 — which, if passed and signed by the president, would nationally recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
Critics have said the reason that the U.S. has not done so yet is that it wants a good relationship with Turkey. They blasted President Donald Trump’s proclamation about the anniversary, which did not include the word “genocide.”
“We pledge to learn from past tragedies so as to not to repeat them,” Trump wrote. “We welcome the efforts of Armenians and Turks to acknowledge and reckon with their painful history. And we stand with the Armenian people in recalling the lives lost during the Meds Yeghern and reaffirm our commitment to a more peaceful world.”
Trump called it “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century” in his proclamation.
No arrests or altercations between protesters and counter-protesters were reported.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.