Silvard Atajyan was three years of age when mass killings were taking place in southern Turkey in 1915.
She was saved by French soldiers along with her parents and sister, but her cousins, aunts and uncles all perished.
“If the Turks recognise the genocide and murder of so many Armenians, then all those persecuted Armenians, their descendants, who told the world about what happened, will return to their homeland and their mission will be completed,” said Silvard.
Her relatives and hundreds of other Armenians in Ottoman Turkish lands were killed at a time when Turkey as we know it today did not exist. The Ottoman Empire extended its influence to the gates of Russia and the Middle East.
Today, Turkey admits that around half a million Armenians were killed then, but says a similar number of Turks also lost their lives.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Ottoman Armenians would be remembered today .. the 100th anniversary of the deportation and deaths (April 24).
Armenia has renewed calls for the 1915 massacre of up to one and a half million of its people to be internationally recognised under one label.
In the run up to todays commemorations the debate has been reopened over whether a civilisation that flourished for four millennia.. and suffered deportation and death at the hands of Ottoman Turkish forces constitutes what some scholars call “the genocide.”
Certain international institutions, such as the European Parliament recognise what they call “the genocide” along with several countries such as France, Russia and, from today, Germany. Turkey and some historians reject the terminology.
The debate has angered the Turkish president who implied he could have “deported” Armenian nationals living in Turkey.
His choice of words was emotive: most Ottoman Armenians died during their deportation to the Syrian desert.
“It is out of the question for there to be a stain, a shadow called ‘genocide’ on Turkey,” he said.
Many Turks say there is no evidence central authorities ordered the violence .. a crucial point as the man who founded modern Turkey had previously served the Ottoman empire.
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