OTTAWA, April 24, 2015 /CNW/ - On Friday, April 24th, thousands of Canadians gathered in the nation's capital to mark a somber anniversary. 100 years ago to the day, the systematic slaughter of Armenians began in earnest in Ottoman Turkey, leading to the death of more than 1.5 million people. This commemoration event is one of many that has been organized by Armenian communities across the country, and comes just weeks after Pope Francis and the European Parliament called the slaughter of Armenians a 'genocide' and encouraged Turkey to take responsibility for its actions.
"As Armenian Canadians, it is important for us to remember collectively those who lost their lives during the genocide," said Mr. Mher Karashian, President of the Genocide Centennial Committee of Canada. "It is also important to thank Parliament and this government for officially going on record in 2004 and condemning the Armenian Genocide before it was the thing to do," added Mr. Karakashian.
Organizers estimate that more than 5000 people from across Canada attended the event, which began at 12:15pm. Speeches and opening remarks were given by a number of special guests, including Defence Minister Jason Kenney, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and MP's Brad Butt, Alexandre Boulerice and Irwin Cotler, who spoke on behalf of their parties. Other attendees included Assyrian, Jewish, Tutsi, Ukrainian, Greek, Cypriot, and Kurdish organization representatives.
"As a Canadian parliamentarian who closely works with the Armenian Canadian community, I have learned that you cannot meet a single Armenian whose family has not been directly impacted by this event," Jason Kenney said in his remarks. "That is why I'm here to offer my support to the whole Armenian Canadian community."
The Armenian Genocide, which began on April 24, 1915, was the planned extermination of a million and half Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turkey. More than two million Armenians were forcibly taken from their homes and villages, men drafted into and murdered in the Ottoman Turkish army, and women, children and the elderly driven into the Syrian deserts where they were starved, beaten, raped, drowned, or burnt alive. Survivors ended up in orphanages and refugee camps across the Middle East and the West. 150 of the genocide orphans were brought to Canada starting in 1923 in what became known as Canada's Noble Experiment.
The goal of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of Canada is to raise public awareness about the imperative to foresee and prevent Genocides and Crimes against Humanity in the future, notably by promoting the recognition and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and all Genocides; and to foster, promote, and pursue fundamental principles of truth, justice, accountability, and responsibility, in matters of Human Rights, Genocides, and Crimes Against Humanity.
SOURCE Armenian National Committee of America
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