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Welsh National Assembly gathers around the Armenian Genocide - CRAG Press Release - 25 October 2002


 On Wednesday, 30 October 2002, the Welsh National Assembly in Cardiff will become once more the centre spot for an event that recalls the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

 Dr Vahram Abadjian, Armenian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, HG Nathan Hovhannisyan, Primate of the Armenian Orthodox Church and Pontifical Legate to the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as Dr Rostom Stepanian, Chair of the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (CRAG), will join Members of the Welsh Assembly, Wales-Armenia Solidarity as well as other Welsh and Armenian officials, supporters and friends in recognising the majority signature by Assembly Members in Wales of the Statement of Opinion (2000-0029) that calls upon Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.

The Armenian Genocide refers to the wholesale massacre of Armenians in 1915 during the course of World War I. Those massacres were perpetrated throughout different regions of the Ottoman Empire by the government of the Young Turks who were in power then.

A large number of scholars agree that 70% of the Armenian population (roughly one and half million) were killed during this period - most of them within three months of April 1915. Full-scale massacres and deportations of Armenians continued throughout 1916 and occurred albeit with lesser intensity until 1923. Almost 2000 towns and villages were emptied of their native Armenian inhabitants.

The central plank of Armenian demands in the United Kingdom is the recognition by Turkey of this genocide. It is unacceptable in modern-day terms to deny that 1.5 million men, women and children died as a consequent result of a Turkish policy of demolishing or uprooting a whole people during 1915-1923. This request for recognition is a moral issue that would restore truth with justice and lead toward reconciliation.

Just like the Jewish Holocaust and other subsequent genocides throughout the last century, history should not deny the Armenian Genocide. Nor should the world community shy away from recognising it simply for geo-political reasons that make Turkey far more important than Armenia in the interests of some countries.

 This official event will start at 12:30 pm with an official greeting by the three Welsh co-sponsors of this meeting. Dr Richard Edwards (Labour), Mr Cynog Dafis (Plaid Cymru) and Ms Kirsty Williams (Liberal Democrat) will open the event and propose the setting up in Wales of a Cross Party Committee on Armenia. The event will also feature a meeting with the Welsh Deputy First Minister, a welcome by Ms Jenny Randerson AM, Welsh Minister of Culture, and Dr Rostom Stepanian, Chair of CRAG, who will refer to this ground-charting achievement by the Welsh National Assembly and place it in its larger contemporary context.

     "I cannot ignore the fact that there is strong evidence to suggest that such a
      massacre or genocide took place. I cannot ignore the fact that so many
      national and regional parliaments, including those of France, Belgium,
      Sweden and the European Parliament,have taken the same view."

Carwyn Jones AM, Minister for Agriculture
Short Debate on the Armenian Community in Wales and Genocide in Turkey.
The Official Record, National Assembly for Wales, 16 May 2002

For Further Information: Wales-Armenia Solidarity: 01286-871218
Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide: 020-88327490

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