BEIRUT: Hundreds of Lebanese Armenians waved Armenian flags and burned
Turkish flags to send a message to visiting Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan "to acknowledge the Armenian genocide."
"Animals are not welcome," read one demonstrator's sign under a
picture of the visiting Turkish premier.
The protestors gathered in Bourj Hammoud, an Armenian suburb of
Beirut, and shouted slogans condemning the 1915 Ottoman massacre of
The demonstration, organized by the Armenian Tashnag Party, was not a
protest against the actual visit, "as diplomatic relations are
respected," said a Tashnag Party spokesperson, but rather was intended
as a "reminder" to the Turkish and the Lebanese governments about the
genocide that reportedly killed 1.5 million Armenians.
"By Turkey ignoring what happened ... it is like a painful
continuation of the genocide," said the spokesperson.
Hratch Balekijan, one of the protestors, came carrying a poster of
Erdogan depicted as Pinocchio.
Balekijan said: "Turkey keeps lying about what happened and Lebanon
keeps ignoring our voices."
Balekijan, like the rest of the demonstrators, is frustrated at how,
after 90 years of demonstrations over the killings, some countries
like Lebanon have not yet officially acknowledged the massacre as
Lebanon is home to the Arab world's largest Armenian community, made
up of descendants of survivors of the 1915-1917 massacres in Turkey.
There are an estimated 120,000 Lebanese Armenians, half as many as
before the 1975-1990 civil war.
Erdogan is expected to stay for two days, during which he will hold
talks with Lebanese officials and participate in the Arab Economic
Original title: Armenians protest as Erdogan arrives in Beirut.
Demonstrators demand Turkey acknowledge and apologize for Ottoman-era
By Rym Ghazal, Daily Star staff
June 16, 2005
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