Armenians stage anti-Turkish rally on WWI `genocide`

The protest attracted hordes of youths who marched with candles.

Yerevan: Some 10,000 people rallied in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Saturday to demand that Turkey recognise the "genocide" of up to 1.5 million of their kin during World War I under the Ottoman Empire.

The protest, organised by the influential Armenian Revolutionary Federation political party, attracted hordes of youths who marched with candles up to a hillock in Yerevan, consecrated to the memory of the victims.

The protestors, staging the rally on the eve of the 96th anniversary of the massacre, held up banners saying: "Armenia wants Turkey to own up."

The Interfax news agency put their number at 10,000.

The two countries signed landmark protocols in 2009, under Swiss mediation, which were a first step towards ending decades of hostility over World War I massacres of Armenians under Ottoman Turks.

"Turkey stole from us our historic land, our monuments and our future," a party lawmaker, Vaghan Hovhannessian, said.

The persecutions are commemorated every year on April 24. On that day in 1915, more than 200 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were arrested in Constantinople, or present day Istanbul. That was followed by a wave of massacres and deportations which continued until 1917.

Turkey rejects the "genocide" label, countering that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian forces.

Bureau Report

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