Armenians mark the centenary of the killings on April 24. Cyprus was the first country to raise the issue of recognizing the Armenian genocide at the U.N. General Assembly in 1965.
The event is widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
The Cyprus Mail Reports…
Cyprus on Thursday made it a crime to deny that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenian Turks a century ago.
The Cypriot parliament passed a resolution penalising denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, modifying existing legislation, which required prior conviction by an international court to make denial a crime.
“Today is a historic day,” speaker of parliament Yiannakis Omirou said. “It allows parliament to restore, with unanimous decisions and resolutions, historical truths.”
The nature and scale of the killings remain highly contentious. Turkey accepts that many Armenians died in partisan fighting beginning in 1915, but denies that up to 1.5 million were killed and that this constituted an act of genocide – a term used by many Western historians and foreign parliaments.
Armenia accuses the Ottoman authorities at the time of systematically massacring large numbers of Armenians, then deporting many more, including women, children and the elderly and infirm in terrible conditions on so-called death marches.
The issue has long been a source of tension between Turkey and several Western countries, especially the United States and France, both home to large ethnic Armenian diasporas. Cyprus too has an Armenian population.
To further commemorate Cyprus’ decision to criminalise the denial of the genocide, Cyprus and Armenia Post jointly issued a stamp to honour the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The stamp depicts the building of the Melkonian Educational Institute, in Nicosia, that hosted orphans from Ottoman Turkey who survived the massacres and evolved into a landmark of Cyprus’ Armenian community.
The initiative for the stamp issue belongs to Vartkes Mahdessian, the representative of the Armenian community in the Cypriot parliament, and the island’s post office.
This year marks the centenary of the Armenian Genocide.
The Melkonian Institute, founded in 1924, housed and educated refugee orphans who survived the massacres in Ottoman Turkey during the First World War.
The picture of the building, depicted in the stamp, was taken in 1940 by photographer Haigaz Mangoian, while the trees planted by the orphans in memory of their parents can also be seen in front of the building.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.