Sunday, November 04, 2007

Protests fail to halt memorial

Nov 3 2007
ic Wales, United Kingdom
by David Williamson, Western Mail

A MEMORIAL commemorating the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the early 20th century is being unveiled today in the Welsh capital.

The Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, Lord Elis-Thomas, will take part in the ceremony outside the Temple of Peace in Cardiff , and will attribute the deaths to “one of the biggest genocides the world has ever seen when”.

Armenians claim 1.5 million people were either murdered or died through starvation. Turkey insists there was no policy of genocide and claims 300,000 Armenians died in inter-ethnic violence.

The announcement that the memorial was due to be unveiled provoked angry protests from the Turkish community last month.

More than 200 messages protesting against the monument’s erection have been sent by members of the Turkish community in Wales, elsewhere in Britain and from Turkey itself over the decision to erect the pillar of pink stone and Welsh slate.

The controversial topic also hit the headlines when Democrats in the US Congress agreed to delay a vote on a Bill which censured the Ottoman Empire for the killings. President Bush had warned the vote could permanently damage US relations with Turkey.

Lord Elis-Thomas said, “Wales’ relationship with one of the oldest states and the oldest Christian Church in the world goes back centuries and the fact that the funds for this fine memorial have been raised entirely by the Armenians who live in Wales, and that it will occupy a special place here in the Temple of Peace, reflects the vibrant Welsh interest in the history of Armenia.”

In March 2000, a majority of Assembly Members voted in support of a motion by Rhodri Glyn Thomas acknowledging the genocide. It also called on the UK Government to block Turkey’s admission to the EU until it acknowledged the crime.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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