Pro-Turkey activists “seized” the sky above New York City, while hired supporters danced below, to scribble slogans denying Turkey’s genocide against Armenians just days ahead of Remembrance Day, which is meant to commemorate its 1.5 million victims.
The US-based Turkish Institute for Progress turned to the blue sky over Manhattan to promote its take on events that took place 101 years ago and that Turkey has been denying ever since.
On April 21, a skywriting plane took off to scrawl controversial slogans praising Turkey and rejecting the Armenian genocide of 1915.
“How happy is the one who says, I am a Turk” reads one of the slogans, referring to a phrase coined in 1933 by the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk. Turkish children had to recite this oath at the beginning of every school day for 80 years.
Other slogans included “101 years of geno-lie” and “Truth = Peace,” as well as “Fact check Armenia,” the URL of a website aimed at countering alleged “Armenian misinformation” concerning the tragedy that took place during and after World War I.
Meanwhile, a group of cheerful people hired by the pro-Turkey activist group danced on the ground in Brooklyn just across the river from Wall Street wearing red t-shirts matching the Turkish flag that were emblazoned with the words “Truth = Peace.”
The same slogan left the Wall Street Journal in hot water earlier this week after it was used in a controversial full-page advert it published that featured three hands colored like the flags of Turkey, Armenia, and Russia. The Turkish hand flashed a peace sign, while the other two had their fingers crossed.
April 24 marks the date on which 250 Armenian intellectuals were deported from Istanbul in 1915, the majority of which were later assassinated.
In the following years, thousands of Armenians were displaced, deported, or placed in concentration camps by the Ottoman Empire’s Committee of Union and Progress, resulting in the death of 1.5 million Armenians.
However, Turkey has consistently denied its role in the tragic events, claiming that the deaths were the result of civil war, and not a systematic effort to eliminate a race of people.
New York’ta düzenlenen Ermeni yalanlarını protesto gösterileri oncesinde şehitlerimiz anısına saygı duruşu yapıldı! pic.twitter.com/hqrGK3eSjK
— Fact Check Armenia (@FCArmenia) April 20, 2016
Turkey estimates that 300,000 Armenians died during World War I, while Armenia puts the figure at 1.5 million, calling the massive loss of life a genocide.
The European Parliament (EP), which recognized it as such in 1987, has repeatedly urged Turkey to do the same.
The EP passed a resolution last year urging Turkey to open its “archives and come to terms with its past.”