Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK

Armenians remember mass killings
By Natalia Antelava
BBC News, Yerevan

Armenia wants Turkey to admit the mass killings amounted to genocide
Armenians around the world have commemorated the 90th anniversary of the
killings of hundreds of thousands of people by the Ottoman Empire.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians took to the streets of Yerevan to pay
their respects to the victims.
Armenian President Robert Kocharian is leading an effort for recognition of
the killings as genocide.
But Turkey is resisting the effort, saying the killings were merely
casualties of war.
The crowds marched in mourning and remembrance, in a seemingly endless human
chain moving slowly up the hill towards the monument to Armenia's most
painful memory.
Foreign delegates and politicians were the first to come and go.
Then, it was just people, hundreds of thousands of women, men and children,
only a very few of them old enough to remember what Armenians call the first
genocide the 20th Century.
It took hours in the unbearable heat to get up to the memorial that honours
victims of the massacres that began in 1915.
Ninety years ago, on the night of 24 April, the government of Ottoman Turkey
rounded up about 250 leaders of the empire's Armenian community.
Some were deported, others executed.
Over the next two years nearly 1.5 million Armenians were reportedly killed
or died during deportations from Turkey.
Open door to genocide
To this day, many Armenians believe it was the killing of their people that
paved the way to the Holocaust.
We can't let our children forget what happened - the world does not pay
attention to Armenia as it is, so we should do our best to keep reminding

Borseb Gevorkian, an Armenian from Lebanon
"After all, who remembers the annihilation of the Armenians," Hitler has
been quoted as saying.
Armenians around the world say it is essential for them to remember.
"We can't let our children forget what happened. The world does not pay
attention to Armenia as it is, so we should do our best to keep reminding
them," said Borseb Gevorkian, who came from Lebanon to join the march.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Mr Gevorkian's grandparents fled
Turkey for Lebanon, a country which is now home to a large part of Armenia's
huge Diaspora.
It is believed that there are three times the number of ethnic Armenians in
Lebanon than in Armenia itself, which has a population of three million.
"This is an important occasion. After all, it's us - the members of the
diaspora whose parents were deported and killed. I think that's why it was
important for us to be here." he said.
Demands for recognition
But many will argue that it is the people who live today in the impoverished
Armenia that are most haunted by the past.
Ninety years later, Armenia has no diplomatic relations with Turkey and its
borders are sealed, hampering much-needed development of Armenia's
struggling, post-Soviet economy.

Armenia want Turkey to admit the mass killings amounted to genocide
Armenian President Robert Kocharian says the country does not want financial
compensation from Turkey.
What Armenians want is for Turkey, and the world, to recognise what happened
as genocide.
An increasing number of governments are already doing so.
France, Russia, Poland and Germany are among 15 nations that say that the
genocide did take place. They are calling on Turkey to follow the suit.
But Turkey says the numbers of those killed are grossly inflated and that
the Armenians were casualties of World War I, not genocide.
As Ankara prepares to start its EU membership talks in October, Armenia
hopes for Europe will push Turkey to change its stance as did the thousands
of those who marched on Sunday.
They marched not only in commemoration but also in demand for the world to
recognise what everyone in Armenia believes, that they suffered the first
genocide of the 20th Century.