Armenians March Near Genocide Museum Protesting Turkish Church Show

Armen Hareyan's picture

On September 19, hundreds of thousands are expected to march in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan protesting Turkey's refusal to raise the cross atop the Armenian church Holy Cross in its Eastern province of Van.

According to the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute announcement, there will be a Mass service held by the Armenian church officials near the Genocide Memorial on September 19 at 12PM local time. The service will be followed by a protest march against the "state orchestrated show" of the Turkish authorities for the once-a-year cross-less one-day religious ceremony.

This Sunday, for the first time in 100 years, the authorities in Turkey will allow a Christian church service in the Armenian church of Akhtamar, located in its eastern province of Van. Armenians have largely protested this service saying this is a "farce" which Turkey has set up to to project an image of tolerance against its religious minorities. While more than 5000 Armenians from Armenia and the diaspora had made reservations to travel to Turkey for the service and had welcomed the move, most of them canceled their travel plans after learning that Turkey will not have the cross put atop the church for the service.

Top three hierarchical sees of the Armenian Church have refused to participate in tomorrow's service. Patriarchal Vicar Aram Ateshian will perform tomorrow's requiem in Holy Cross Armenian Church in Van.

Akhtamar in Turkish Armenian relations: glass half full or half empty

The Armenian public opinion, shared by the majority in Armenia and its powerful Diaspora, is that the event should be boycotted because by doing this Turkey aims to project an image of a tolerant country in the world. this view is widely held because many Christian Churches in Turkey, including the Hagia Sophia, are forbidden from operating as houses of worship and turned into state museums.

However, there is a small minority in the public that believes the church service should not be boycotted as this is a difficult step forward in Turkish-Armenian relations. The century-old problems cannot be solved in one day or with one step. Some Armenians believe that allowing one service in this church may open door for other churches to return to the Armenian Patriarchate.

Armenian public opinions shared by a majority believes that we should boycott the event because it's their image problem resolution, while the other part thinks that we should participate in the liturgy because it will open the door further in Turkey territory of other Armenian churches for repairs.

Turkey has closed its border with Armenia siding with Azerbaijan in regard to the future status of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Armenians demand Turkish recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the beginning of the 20th century when 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed in Eastern Turkey in systematically planned ethnic cleansing. Turkey denies the charge saying it was the result of the First World War.

More than twenty countries, including Russia, Canada and France, have recognized the events in 1915 as genocide. International Association of Genocide Scholars has also recognized the Armenian Genocide.

Add new comment