Turkey Rights Groups Call on World Leaders to Boycott Gallipoli, Visit Yerevan on Genocide Centennial
On Feb. 6, human rights organizations in Turkey issued a statement urging world leaders to reject Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invitation to take part in ceremonies commemorating the Battle of Gallipoli on April 24 this year. Instead, they asked that heads of states show solidarity with the descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide by visiting the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan on April 24—Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
The full text of the statement is printed below:
On April 24 of the 100th Year of the Genocide, Call to World Leaders: Go to Yerevan, Not Gallipoli
President Erdogan has announced that this year, the annual commemorations of the Battle of Gallipoli, held annually on March 18, will instead take place on April 24—the day that marks the 100th year of the Armenian Genocide. The president has invited world leaders to the said commemorations in Gallipoli.
Touted as a “victory” and ceremonially celebrated by Turkey, the Battle of Gallipoli is in actuality one of the many mournful pages of a war of domination into which the Ottoman Empire entered with dreams of conquest and out of which it emerged in heavy defeat. The battle is part of a painful history, of children from far-flung lands killing each other in the name of state policy.
April 24, on the other hand, is the date that signifies the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, which was planned, organized, overseen in terms of its proceeding and results, and meticulously recorded so as to destroy Ottoman Armenians with all their social fabric and historical heritage. The Assyrian people too were a target of genocide—massacred en masse in the Assyrian Genocide known as “Seyfo.” The genocide ultimately resulted in the destruction of all Christian peoples on Ottoman territory, including Armenians and Assyrians—as well as Greeks, who constituted the largest Christian population in the region in the beginning of the 19th century. By turning the symbolic starting point of such a massive, irremediable, and irredeemable destruction into official commemorations of a fictive “victory,” the government of the Republic of Turkey not only scorns the memory of the victims of the genocide and their descendants, but also intends to cast a shadow on and make invisible the efforts at commemorating the genocide by human rights defenders and activists against racism and denial in Turkey.
As organizations and solidarity groups against genocide denial, we protest the president’s invitation in the days leading to the 100th anniversary of April 24, 1915. We call on world leaders to visit the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, instead of coming to Gallipoli.
We hereby entreat: Do not accept the invitation of the government of the Republic of Turkey, which to this day has carried the responsibility for the genocide by recruiting perpetrators from among the CUP [Committee of Union and Progress] to form the founding establishment, and by institutionalizing denial from the onset through legislation, history writing, and systematic official or unofficial policies. Do announce, to the world entire, that you will not desecrate the memory of the victims of genocide and trample upon their descendants’ century-long mourning by coming to Gallipoli on April 24.
Human Rights Association
Committee Against Racism and Discrimination
Izmir Assyrian Platform for Culture and Solidarity
www.suryaniler.com Cultural Platform
Zan Foundation for Social, Political, and Economic Research