YEREVAN (RFE/RL) —Armenia’s leaders laid flowers at the Tsitsernakabert memorial in Yerevan on April 24 during official commemorations of the 105th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey which were scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
President Armen Sarkissian, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, visited the hilltop memorial separately, observing social distancing rules aimed at stopping the spread of the virus in the country.
KarekinII and several other senior clergymen prayed by its eternal fire for some 1.5 million Armenians who were killed during the Armenian Genocide.
For the first time ever, ordinary Armenians were not allowed to walk to Tsitsernakabert because of a coronavirus-related nationwide lockdown imposed by the Armenian government last month. Heeding a government appeal, many of them turned off the lights in their homes and lit mobile phone flashlights by their windows for three minutes in memory of the dead on the evening of April 23. Churches across the country tolled their bells in the meantime.
“The Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire was a crime not only against our ethnic identity but also against human civilization,” Pashinyan declared in a televised address to the nation broadcast live from Tsitsernakabert.
“More than a century has passed but the consequences of the Genocide have not been eliminated,” he said. “Turkey has not yet apologized for what it did. That is why we declare that we remember and demand.”