French-Armenians launch active campaign ahead of Genocide centennial

Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a civic group of French-Armenians has launched a website as part of the pan-national efforts towards raising awareness of the tragic event and demanding recognition and reparation.

Speaking to, Hrachya Aslanyan, Head of the Diaspora Ministry’s Department of Armenian Communities of Europe, said the campaign, “#2015RTAG. Recognize The Armenian Genocide”, has been initiated by Armenians of Marseilles under the leadership of the community activists Ani Stepanov and Richard Findikyan.

“My connection with this initiative is limited only to the extent that I am from Marseilles, and I was asked to offer my assistance to make the movement more popular. I informed the minister of the initiative, and the very first day, she was photographed with the poster [bearing the slogan] ��?#2015RTAG. Recognize The Armenian Genocide’ and later spread it. First Lady Rita Sargsyan and Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan followed suit; they were later joined by Fetin Çetin, an ethnic Armenian lawyer in the Hrant Dink [case], and well-known public figures,” he said.

Aslanyan added that the Ministry later called for active efforts towards involving all the Diaspora communities, individuals, officials and foreign legislators in the movement.

The group later embarked on creating the seven-language website which has already attracted over 6,000 fans on Facebook since its launch last week.

“If we achieve something great, we’ll clearly decide on, and coordinate with different communities, the next steps. We are now planning on a footage featuring scenes of Genocide, each episode of which will be introduced by well-known Armenians from across the globe,” he said, expressing further his hope that the initiative will really gain popularity.

Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan says she really feels happy that the initiators were Marseilles-Armenians and local city authorities. “We, naturally, work with our communities every day, and our first approach was that we have to be a direct participant. As different public figures visit the Ministry, we offer them to join the movement,” she said.

Hakobyan described the move as a major moral impetus in terms of raising the youth’s awareness of history. “I think recognition is a for politicians of those countries which are still lingering and haven’t recognized the Genocide to date,” she added.

The minister said she believes that the initiative will have a great impact on the world community, whose active involvement in the campaign will be a great stimulus in moving ahead with the Genocide recognition efforts. “Our slogan is, I Remember and Demand. And remembering, we demand the reinstatement of the lost rights, the community and pan-national rights.”

The minister further hailed the Greek parliament’s September 9 bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide. “I think any step is a success,” she said, adding that she doesn’t any surprise move by Turkey ahead of April 24. “I don’t think Turkey will recognize the Genocide on or ahead of the centennial day, but Turkey too, faces an identity crisis, with the society beginning to recognize its history. And that’s a fact. That’s an outcome of the movement. The fact that hundreds and thousands of people in Turkey have started identifying themselves is already a big achievement.”

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