Washington, 25 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Armenian-Americans continued their annual week-long commemorations yesterday of the murders of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish Empire more than 80 years ago.
Armenians say their view that the Turkish Empire deliberately followed a policy of mass murder against its Armenian subjects is supported by significant historic evidence. Armenian Americans say that 1.5 million Armenians were murdered between 1915 and 1923. Turkey does not dispute that Armenians were murdered, or that Turkish soldiers and officials participated in the killings. However, Turkey says the murders were committed during the chaos and anarchy of the First World War, and were not the result of a conspiracy by the Ottomans, who were overthrown at war's end.
Armenian National Committee of America spokeswoman Elizabeth Chouldjian says Armenian Americans mark April 24 as the anniversary of the genocide, but a series of special events began over the weekend. She says Armenians plan a reception at the U.S. Capitol on Sunday to thank American congressmen for supporting legislation that officially commemorates the day and also encourages Turkey to acknowledge the deaths as genocide.