CHICAGO, Ill. —A small group of protesters commemorated the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Chicago’s iconic Daley Plaza on April 24, 2020, demanding that Turkey return the portions of Armenia that it occupies and make just reparations to the Armenian people for its losses during the Genocide. Due to the current shelter-in-place orders and the global pandemic, Daley Plaza, like much of Chicago’s city center, was desolate.
Donning face masks and gloves and complying with social distancing guidelines, protesters held aloft flags, signs and banners conveying their demands, including an end to Turkey’s aggressive campaign of genocide denial. The protest drew interest from the few passersby, both on foot and in vehicles.
“2020 not only marks the 105th anniversary of the Genocide, it is also the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Sevres, which delineated the boundary between Turkey and Armenia,” said Greg Bedian on behalf of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). “The time has come for Turkey to live up to its treaty obligations and respect Armenia’s territorial integrity by immediately withdrawing its armed forces and its illegal settlers from Armenia’s western territories,” he continued.
Armenian Americans and other people of conscience in the Chicago area have held protests annually for nearly 50 years to raise awareness of Turkey’s 1915-1923 genocide of its indigenous Armenian, Greek and Assyrian populations. Although recent protests have had hundreds of demonstrators, this year’s protest was severely limited in scope due to COVID- 19 restrictions on public gatherings imposed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.
“Even though we were limited in numbers, we felt it was essential that our message be conveyed in person this year as well,” stated Bedian. The ARF Chicago “Christapor” Gomideh led the protest this year.
Other events organized by Chicago Armenians to honor the 1.5 million Armenian victims of the Genocide are taking place online through the end of April including special church services, memorial programs with the participation of Illinois congressional representatives and a global vigil organized through the #TogetherWeRemember Coalition.