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Crowds call on Washington to recognise 1915 genocide

by Our Foreign Desk

THOUSANDS of people packed New York City’s Times Square on Sunday to demand that Washington recognise as genocide the Ottoman killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians a century ago.

The rally marked the centenary of the first killings carried out by the Ottoman empire.

Ethnic Armenians living in the US are pushing for a formal vote in Congress on classifying the killings as genocide.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer told the demonstrators: “I stand with you in making sure the deniers are not given any place under the sun.”

Speakers included several Jewish leaders as well as Turkish-born scholar Taner Akcam, who supports the Armenian cause as a professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

“It is very troubling to see that the US has still not recognised the Armenian genocide,” he said, adding that the justification was the crucial role of Turkey in US security strategy.

Rabbi Steven Burg of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said that Polish-born Jew Rafael Lemkin had coined the term genocide in the ’40s, convincing the world to view the Holocaust as a crime against humanity.

“He started his quest because of the Armenian genocide,” the rabbi said. “We need to support each other, whether it be Rwandans or whether it be Armenians or Jews.”

Pope Francis recently acknowledged the killings as genocide, as did Russian President Vladimir Putin, who visited Armenia last Friday for a remembrance of the victims.

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