It is time for the Turkish government to recognize the early 20th century mass killings of Armenians and Alevis in the Ottoman Empire as a crime of genocide, a vice president of the European Alevi Unions Confederation said in Yerevan.
At a news conference on Friday, Eldar Klichkaya (who also heads the Federation of Alevis in France) called for a serious attitude and attention to their union’s declaration adopted ahead of the Armenian Genocide centennial back in 2015.
Klichkaya is in Yerevan together with a delegation of different Alevi organizations’ representatives from Europe. Earlier today, the guests visited the Armenian Genocide memorial in Tsitsernakaberd to pay respect to the big tragedy’s vicitms.
Klichkaya said they have also met with Vice Speaker of the National Assembly Eduard Sharmazanov (who is an ethnic Greek), and representatives of other ethnic minorities, including Yezidi and Assyrian parliamentarians and students.
He noted that despite the hundreds of years’ shared history, the Armenians and Alevis “know very little about each other today”.
“For many centuries, the peoples of Anatolia shared a common history. They derived food from the same soil and breathed the same air, and saw the same sun shining above their heads. And despite this harmony uniting the Alevis, Armenians, Kurds, Greeks and Assyrian-Chalcedonians, they [the Turks] always tried to eliminate this diversity, enforcing their policy of assimilation through the most brutal methods. They choked the country in tears and blood,” he said, quoting a paragraph from the document.
Klichkaya described their current visit as a unique gesture of paying their debt to Hrant Dink, the assassinated Turkish-Armenian editor-in-chief of Agos (Istanbul-based Armenian weekly) and the hundreds of other Armenians who lost their lives while defending the national cause for justice.
Koryun Nahapetyan, a French-Armenian public figure also attending the news conference, said they have been actively collaborating with Alevis over the past years (since Dink’s assassination) as part of their joint activities with the Turkish democrats, and representatives of other ethnic groups who suffered as a result of the Turkish government’s policies.
Aragats Akhoyan, a member of the International Association of Armenian Parliamentarians, said their first dialogues too, were with ethnic Alevis. “We are practically laying new foundations and outlining new frameworks today to allow the nations persecuted by the Turkish regime to get together again in an attempt to find and consider joint solutions. Their suffering was caused by the same instrument, i.e. – the Turkish nationalism,” he noted.