Staff writer Ashley Rose reports:
A candlelight vigil will be held Friday night at Dallas City Hall to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
Armenian Americans and others will gather from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on the lawn of City Hall Plaza for the peace vigil to raise awareness about the massacre of some 1.5 million people during World War I.
“As we gather together for this candlelight vigil, it is our hope and desire to raise awareness about genocide in general and hold hands with others in an effort to abolish genocide as a global evil,” said Hamlet Sarokhanian, chairman of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of DFW.
In what is known as the first genocide of the 20th century, the Turkish government arrested and executed over 200 Armenian community leaders in Constantinople on April 24, 1915, accusing them of being traitors.
In the following years, thousands of Christian Armenian men, women and children living in the Ottoman Empire were sent on death marches, placed in concentration camps and massacred by death squads.
To this day, the government in Turkey disputes Armenian accounts of the genocide. To this day, discussing the atrocities is taboo in the country.
The vigil will feature guest speakers including Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program. Representatives of Rwandan, Ukrainian, Jewish, Russian, Darfurian, Syrian, Assyrian and other ethnic communities touched by genocide will also attend. Some local businesses will also close to mark the occasion.
“Genocide has become a global phenomenon and by promoting understanding, we hope history will not repeat itself,” Sarokhanian said.