On April 24, 1915, prominent representatives of the Armenian people in politics, the sciences, literature, and other fields were arrested and summoned from their homes on the orders of the governing Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). The arrests marked the beginning of the process of genocide, which led to the deracination of the Armenian population throughout Anatolia where they had lived for thousands of years, and to their annihilation as a result of starvation, destitution, and massacres.
Last year, as part of the Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association, Committee Against Racism and Discrimination, we commemorated those who were arrested on the 24th of April and the victims of genocide in front of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, which had been used as a prison during that period. “Armenian intellectuals were jailed in these cells and wards before they were sent to their deaths. This is one of the crime scenes of Istanbul!” we told the press.
As we were making this declaration, Sevag Şahin Balıkçı was shot dead in the city of Batman while he was on mandatory military duty. This year, on April 24, we will be making our press statement at the same place, and commemorate Sevag along with the other victims of the Armenian Genocide.
In our statement to the press, we will share with the public in Turkey and the world two letters that we will be sending to the Catholicosate of Cilicia, which was uprooted as a result of the genocide from its centuries-old home in Sis, today Adana Kozan, and displaced to Beirut, and to the Catholicosate of All Armenians in Etchmiadzin. We will make the voices of the human rights defenders in Turkey heard through our letters to the two highest spiritual representatives of the Armenian people, and thus to all Armenians in the world.
After making our statement, we will arrive at the Sirkeci Post Office in a silent procession, in keeping with the tradition of mourning, and mail our letters. As defenders of human rights and protestors against racism and discrimination, we will then visit the grave of Sevag Şahin Balıkçı in the Şişli Armenian Cemetery and observe a moment of silence in his memory.
We invite all those who believe that the recognition of the genocide is a condition for true democracy and justice to join us at 1p.m. on April 24, 2012 in front of the Museum for Turkish and Islamic Arts.
Human Rights Association, Istanbul Branch
Committee Against Racism and Discrimination