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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 04:02 GMT 05:02 UK
Armenia remembers 1915 killings
By Natalia Antelava
BBC News, Yerevan

Armenian girls holding torches
Armenia want Turkey to admit the mass killings amounted to genocide
Armenia is marking the 90th anniversary of the mass deportations and killings of hundreds of thousands of their people by the Ottoman empire.

Thousands of young people marched through the streets of Yerevan on Saturday night.

They sang the national anthem as the torchlit procession moved slowly up the hill towards a memorial to the victims.

Many said they were going to spend the night at the memorial and then join a procession on Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to join the remembrance march.

Among them will be many Armenians from the United States and Europe, members of the country's huge diaspora which is at least three times as big as Armenia's current population of three million.

Turkey's position

Many people said they hoped to see a million and a half Armenians come out into the streets on Sunday - as many as are believed to have died during the two-year period of killings and deportations by Ottoman Turkey that began in 1915.

Ninety years later, Armenia is still haunted by this past.

Its borders with Turkey are sealed and there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The people of Armenia want Turkey and the world to recognise what happened in 1915 was genocide.

But Ankara says the number of those killed is grossly inflated and that Armenians were casualties of WWI and not victims of genocide.

As Ankara prepares to start EU membership talks in October, the government in Yerevan hopes that Europe will push Turkey to change its stance: and this will be one of the demands of those who will take to the streets of Yerevan on Sunday.

Many here say they will come out not just to commemorate those who died, but also to demand that the world recognise what everyone here believes was the first genocide of the 20th century.




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