Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan responded to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s invitation to visit Centennial commemoration event dedicated to the Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey, reminding his earlier invitation to visit Yerevan on the same day – April 24 – when the Armenians of the world together with the international community will be marking the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
Panorama.am presents the unofficial translation of the letter in English.
Honorable Mr President:
I am in receipt of your invitation to take part in the ceremonies dedicated to the Centennial anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli.
Indeed, the World War I has been one of the most horrible chapters in the history of humankind that resulted in millions of casualties and crippled destinies.
An Armenian artilleryman, captain Sargis Torosyan was one of the conscripts in the Ottoman forces at the Battle of Gallipoli. He was an officer who devoted himself to the defense and security of the Empire, and for his faithful service and heroic deeds received military awards on behalf of the Ottoman Empire. Whereas the wave of mass atrocities and forced deportations, planned and implemented by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian people, that reached their peak in the same year, encircled even Sargis Torosyan’s family. Among those one and a half million Armenians slaughtered in the Genocide were his parents, who were brutally killed, and his sister died in the deserts of Syria.
It was because of these unprecedented massacres that Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide”, and it was the impunity of it that paved the way for the Holocaust and genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur.
According to you, not only for Turkey alone, but for the international community as well, the battle of Gallipoli is an exceptional example of friendly relations born out of war, and the battlefield that reminds of bitter legacy of war is now a monument of peace and friendship. Leaving aside the well-known meaning of the Battle of Gallipoli or the controversial role of Turkey in two World Wars, one must not forget that peace and friendship first and foremost should be based on the courage to confront the past, on historical justice, as well as on recognition of full-fledged universal memory and not selective approach.
Alas, Turkey continues its traditional policy of denialism and by “improving” its toolset of distorting the history year by year, for the first time this year the centennial of the Battles of Gallipoli will be marked on April 24, notwithstanding that those began on March 18, 1915 and continued through late January 1916, with the allied landing and battles on the ground starting on April 25. What else if not the simple purpose of diverting the attention of international community from the events marking the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide is this now pursuing? Whereas prior to initiating any commemoration events Turkey had much more important responsibility towards its own people and all humankind — to recognise and condemn of the Armenian Genocide.
Therefore, I would advise to remember and include in Your calls of international peace also a message to the world to recognize the Armenian Genocide and commemorate its one-and-a-half million victims. It is the duty of each of us to deliver the real and undistorted history to the next generations, thus preventing the repetition of massacres and building grounds for the rapprochement and further cooperation among nations, especially those that are neighbors.
P.S. Your Excellency, I have invited You to Yerevan still a few months ago to honor the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide together on April 24, 2015. It is alien to our traditions to visit the invitee without receiving a response to your own invitation.