PROVIDENCE, R.I. (A.W.)—On Oct. 10, the mayor of the Diyarbakir Sur Municipality in Turkey, Abdullah Demirbaş, placed flowers at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Providence.
Speaking at the memorial, Demirbaş said, “We bow in memory of all those who lost their lives.”
Kurds played a role in the massacres of 1915, Demirbaş noted. He stressed the importance of confronting the past, and called on the Turkish state to apologize and make amends. “Asking for forgiveness is a sign of maturity,” he said.
The mayor was accompanied by members of the Kurdish and Armenian communities of New England.
Last month, Demirbaş apologized in the name of Kurds for the Armenian and Assyrian “massacre and deportations” during the official inauguration of the Monument of Common Conscience. “We will continue our struggle to secure atonement and compensation for them,” he added.
Demirbaş and the metropolitan mayor of Diyarbakir, Osman Baydemir, have adopted a policy of reviving the multiculturalism of the city in recent years, embarking on a series of initiatives that include renovatng of the Sourp Giragos Church, offering Armenian and Assyrian language courses, returning confiscated Armenian property, and opening the memorial. Diyarbakir is the only city in Turkey with a sign that greets visitors in Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian.
“Today, we are not simply asking for forgiveness in a dry fashion,” Demirbaş noted in an interview with Weekly editor Khatchig Mouradian in Diyarbakir in 2011. “I am a Kurd. And I want for Armenians what I want for the Kurds.”
The Armenian Weekly conducted a follow-up interview with the mayor after the visit to the memorial. The interview will be published next week.