The head of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, Aram I, warned on Tuesday that Turkey began “infiltrating” different parts of the world to silence the Armenian people.
“Turkey began to infiltrate not only the countries of the East and the Arab and Islamic worlds but also Europe, Africa and America, using its international tools, diplomatic relations and economic power to silence the Armenian people that is asking for justice,” Aram I said on the 97th anniversary of the genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I.
“We expect from our Arab friends and western states - Christians and Muslims alike - to defend the right and the truth and stay on course with justice” leaving behind the Turkish diplomatic stances, he said in his sermon at the seat of the Catholicosate in Antelias, north of Beirut.
There is documented proof that the genocide took place although the Turkish government continues to deny it, he said.
“All Armenians should hold onto their faith and continue with their struggle” he stressed, saying “we won’t give up our legitimate rights as long as justice hasn’t been achieved.”
Aram I asked for compensation and said Turkey should return to Armenians occupied lands and church properties.
After the service, around 7,000 to 10,000 Armenians marched to the Turkish embassy in Rabieh, carrying banners in Arabic, Armenian and English demanding Ankara's official recognition of the Armenian genocide.
In front of the embassy, Armenian MPs gave speeches and the crowd sang the Armenian and Lebanese national anthems, with all three Armenian political parties participating.
Several Turkish flags were torn up and set ablaze and some demonstrators threw water, eggs, sticks and firecrackers onto the embassy premises.
Party leaders and fellow demonstrators prevented a confrontation with the Lebanese security forces when some attempted to break through the barbed-wire barrier.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million people were killed in 1915 in what is now Eastern Turkey as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, a claim supported by several other countries.
But Ankara only argues that there was heavy loss of life on both sides during fighting in the area.
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