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Armenian Genocide recognised and commemorated by Welsh Executive at Temple of Peace - 25 April 2001

Cardiff - The Armenian Genocide was recognised and commemorated at a Remembrance Ceremony at the Temple of Peace, in the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, in the presence of the Welsh Assembly's First Minister, Rohdri Morgan, and Jenny Randerson, Minister for Culture Media sport and the Welsh Language and other distinguished dignitaries.

At the ceremony marking the 86th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, sponsored by the Temple of Peace in co-operation with the Committee for the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Welsh Minister of Culture, Media, Sports, and the Welsh Language, Jenny Randerson said, "Turkey can certainly be blamed for its modern denial (of the Armenian Genocide). And I say to representatives of the modern Turkish Government who have sought to put pressure on me since I spoke out on this issue, that as someone who in past life was a historian, I know how to judge evidence and weigh up the pros and cons, and to judge where the truth lies"

The one-hour programme was held on the day that Armenians world-wide mark the start of the Genocide by the Ottoman Turks in 1915. It was on April 24 that the Turks rounded up, tortured, and eventually killed several-hundred Armenian community leaders, including two members of the Turkish Parliament. Without their leaders, the Armenians were easy victims, and 2,140,000 Armenians were ultimately killed or ethnically cleansed from their 3000-year-old homeland.

Speaking on behalf of the Armenian Community of Great Britain, Rebecca Tchaparian thanked the Welsh Government and the Welsh people for their support of the Commemoration activities and presented First Minister Rhodri Morgan with a copy of the recently reprinted Treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16, which first alerted the world to the genocidal activities of the Ottoman government. "Westminster Government should recognise the Armenian Genocide and in so taking the lead from there Welsh counterparts," she said.

Jenny Randerson in the final speech continued that these "events bear all the hallmarks of genocide, it was the first such shameful event of he 20th Century. Deportations that were in reality death marches, use of concentration camps, massacres and starvation, and finally denial.

Just as worrying as the Turkish denial is the denial by our own government, our own UK government"

She concluded "I am proud to speak on behalf of the assembly this morning. And I would like to draw your attention to the fact that there are representatives of all four parties here, united in our attendance here today"

"We must work together within the assembly and throughout society to ensure that this massacre, this genocide, is fully recognised (by the British Government), because recognition and commemoration are the vital steps to ensure that it never happens again".

In accepting the gift, Mr Morgan responded by saying " I found this mornings service very moving, very educational, and I can guarantee that I will read this book."

At the conclusion of the programme, at the Temple of Peace's World War I Memorial, Mr Morgan laid a wreath bearing the words "In Memory of the Victim of the Armenian Genocide." Also, Archbishop of Wales, The Rt Rev Rowan Williams, laid a wreath bearing the words "In Memory of the Armenian Christian Martyrs of 1915."

The Remembrance Ceremony concluded a month-long programme in Wales that also featured a photo exhibition of the images captured by Armin Wegner during the Genocide. The exhibition was opened on March 19 by Mrs Randerson.

A medical orderly, Wegner took his photos, and recorded his observations in his journal, despite the specific orders from the German high command that no photos be taken. His archives are probably the most damning regarding the Genocide. A true humanitarian, Wegner was jailed in the early 1930s for having opposed the Nazi plans regarding the Jews and is the only individual to be honoured in the Avenue of the Righteous, in Israel, and the Genocide Memorial Wall, in Armenia.

Others present at the Remembrance Ceremony were: the Revs G. I. Tyson and Gerwyn Morris Jones, Rev Shnork Bagdassarian, Deacon Stepan Ovanessoff, Carl E. Reardon, Mike Joseph, Bettina Hovsepian. Stephen Thomas, Director of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs welcomed the guests and introduced the programme.

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