Mon, 22 Jul 2019

YEREVAN -- Commemoration ceremonies are being held in Armenia on April 24 to mark the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 104 years ago.

In Yerevan, hundreds of thousands of people marched to the Tsitsernakaberd hilltop memorial to lay flowers at the eternal flame that commemorates victims of what Armenia describes as genocide.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian with his wife, other officials, and politicians were among the visitors to the memorial on April 24.

The U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Lynne Tracey, also attended that ceremony. She told journalists she came to the memorial to honor memories of the victims.

'The United States does not deny historical facts, and the fact is that what took place in 1915 was one of the worst mass atrocities of the twentieth century. But we remain encouraged by the resiliency of the Armenian people and that is also what today is about,' Tracey said.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million people were killed during World War I as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, a claim supported by many other countries.

The World War I-era mass slaughter and deportation is considered by Armenia and the governments and parliaments of 30 other countries as genocide.

Those that recognize the killings as genocide include the European parliament, the U.S. House of Representatives, Russia, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Poland, and 49 of the 50 states in the United States.

Turkey and its close ally Azerbaijan are the only countries that directly deny statements about historical facts related to the era.

They say Armenians died in much smaller numbers and because of civil strife rather than an organized and systemic effort by the Ottoman government to annihilate the Christian minority.

Ankara opposes the recognition of genocide by other countries, threatening economic and diplomatic retaliation to those that do so.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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