Some of the placards threatened the security of Turkey's Armenian minority, while others called for revenge using violence. According to pictures taken by Armenian Weekly and posted on its Facebook page, large groups of protesters were seen in Istanbul's Taksim Square chanting "Taksim Square today, Yerevan Tomorrow: We will descend upon you suddenly in the night."
Demonstrators said they were seeking to avenge for those killed in the tragic events of Khojaly, which Azerbaijan claims is a massacre by the Armenian forces. However, the president of Azerbaijan of the time Ayaz Mutalibov has said in an interview that this was a well planned provocation by Azerbaijan against his presidency. "As the Khojali inhabitants, who narrowly escaped, say, it was all organized in order to have ground for my resignation. Some forces functioned for the effort to discredit the president," Mutalibov told to Czech reporter Dana Mazalova (Njvaya Gazeta," 2.04.92).
"These hate rallies are aimed at increasing the tension between Turkey's and Armenia's unstable political relationship. This is being viewed as pure propaganda to create an anti-Armenian rally due to the unresolved conflict related to the right of self-determination of the people of Nagorno Karabakh, which Azerbaijan does not want to recognize. At the head of these discriminatory demonstrations are leaders of political parties and Turkey's Interior Minister, Idias Naim Sahin who is fueling an already enraged group of Turks and Azerbaijanis," said California based Leo Bagdasarian, and Armenian student from Los Angeles Valley College.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), was quick to condemn the demonstrations and urged the U.S. Ambassador in Turkey Francis Ricciardone to to take action and condemn the "government-sanctioned incitement" to violence.
"Today's anti-Armenian demonstrations in the streets of Istanbul -- with the Interior Minister and prominent political parties at the helm -- were clearly aimed at inciting increased racism and renewed violence against Turkey's own Armenian citizens and neighboring Armenia," stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "These are not simply the violent echoes of a post-genocidal state, but the determined actions of a pre-genocidal Turkish society that is angrily lashing out at its imagined enemies and seeking out its next target. We urge U.S. Ambassador Ricciardone to immediately, forcefully, and publicly condemn this government-sanctioned incitement to violence."
According to the Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish authorities also took "extreme security measures" in the French and Greek consulates because of the unrest and fear of protester violence.
NORA-YR (National Organization of Republican Armenians - Young Republicans,) UCLA Chapter chairwoman Knarik Gasparian released a statement to HULIQ condemning the anti-Armenian demonstrations.
"For a nation and a country which seeks entrance into the European Union and masterfully hides its true face of a murderer under the façade of a secular, developed and compassionate Western country, yesterday's government sanctioned anti-Armenian protests in Taksim Square in Turkey could be seen as an uncharacteristic miscalculation. In reality, this was the natural outburst of racism, animosity and irrational hatred towards the Armenian people, which existed in the country and was suppressed for far too long.
"This violent outburst leaves no doubt that anti- Armenian propaganda is propagated by the Turkish government itself. Inadvertently, strong anti-Armenian sentiments which existed and were facilitated by the Ottoman government in the beginning of the twentieth century come to mind. For a country which claims innocence concerning the events of the Armenian Genocide and characterizes the recent pass of the Genocide denial criminalization proposal in France as “tantamount to discrimination, racism and violates freedom of thought”; signs which read 'You are all Armenians, You are all bastards,' and 'Today Taksim, Tomorrow Yerevan: We will descend upon you suddenly in the night,' are quite in accordance with the freedom of thought and speech and contain no racism.
"As a representative of the Armenian youth, it is painful for me to see that the barbaric sentiments, which fueled the racial and religious discrimination against Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and culminated into the Armenian genocide are still very much present and loudly expressed in broad daylight. It is hard to fathom how so much hatred, prejudice and violence can exist in a society which praises democracy and condemns human rights violations in Syria.
"Only after Turkey accepts that the Armenian massacres of 1915 constitute a genocide, will the two nations be able to peacefully coexist, have mutual respect and achieve stability in the region. Unfortunately, today’s public show of hostility, with its violent rhetoric and offensive threats, does nothing to facilitate this process of rapprochement."
ANCA reports that somewhere between 20,000 to 50,000 people have participated in these demonstrations and that the protest organizers have issued statements stating they plan to organize similar demonstrations in over 50 cities in Turkey.
Image source: Armenian Weekly Facebook Profile