Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the massacre of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.
Demonstrators from all across Armenia flocked to Yerevan to take part in the rally on Sunday. They held a torchlight procession in memory of the Armenians killed in incidents dating back to World War I.
“We want the entire world and all the countries to recognize the genocide of the Armenians,” one demonstrator said at the rally.
April 24 marks the date when hundreds of Armenians were arrested in the then-Ottoman capital of Constantinople in 1915 for allegedly collaborating with the enemies of the Turks. A process of mass killings then began.
The demonstrators in Yerevan burned the Turkish flag in protest against the role of the Ottoman Turks in the incidents.
A similar demonstration was held by Armenian-Americans living in the United States of America.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered at Times Square in New York City on Sunday to commemorate what was dubbed the “Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.”
Commemorations of the event have been held by Armenians since the 1920s.
The occasion often sparks political tensions between Armenia and Turkey, which vehemently opposes the description of the massacre as “genocide.”
Two years ago, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan called on Turkish authorities to recognize the WWl incidents as such. Turkey rejected the request, claiming that 300,000 to 500,000 cases of death and injury between 1915 and 1917 were the result of wartime force majeure.
Armenia, nevertheless, claims that up to 1.5 million of its people were killed at the time, and demands that the incident be recorded in books and documents as “genocide.”
Pope Francis has used that term to describe the killings.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis has arrived in Afghanistan on a surprise visit aimed at shaping President Donald Trump’s strategy in the conflict-ridden country, amid signs of renewed violence.
Mattis arrived in the capital city of Kabul on Monday and was expected to meet with Afghan officials as well as American military troops stationed there.
The Pentagon chief’s arrival coincided with the resignation of his Afghan counterpart Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim following a Taliban attack on a military base that killed some 140 soldiers last week.
The apparent security failure saw as many as 10 Taliban militants disguised as Afghan army personnel make their way into the base on military vehicles and gun down unsuspecting soldiers and new recruits. The final death toll is expected to be higher.
There are currently over 9,000 US troops in Afghanistan. Washington claims that the massive military presence is only aimed at maintaining security across the country until Afghan military forces are ready to take over the responsibility.
The Trump administration is reportedly planning to change the US mission’s stated priorities of training and advising Afghan forces and focus instead on carrying out strikes against terror groups such as Daesh (ISIL).
This change of policy was put on display earlier this month, when General John Nicholson, the top commander of US/NATO troops in Afghanistan, ordered his troops to drop the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb—also known as Mother of All Bombs—on a purported Daesh target in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
Speaking to reporters in Israel last Thursday, Mattis defended using the 11-tonne munition and said he was not surprised by it.
“There was no surprise in terms of the effect of that battle at all. The battle was going on, and we were going to use what was necessary to break ISIS. And we’ve made that very clear in every theater where we’re up against ISIS,” the Pentagon chief said, using an alternative name for Daesh.
This is Mattis’ first trip to Afghanistan as defense secretary.
Scores of Palestinian prisoners have joined a mass hunger strike underway in Israeli prisons in a protest campaign which entered its eighth day on Monday.
The media committee established to support the “Freedom and Dignity” strike said six Palestinians held in the Israeli prison of Megiddo started refusing food on Thursday, joining their 1,500 fellow inmates who are currently on hunger strike.
According to the report, the six prisoners were immediately placed in isolation on Sunday which saw 34 other detainees in Megiddo taking part in the hunger strike.
Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have gone on the hunger strike, initially called for by former Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, since April 17 in protest at the conditions of Israeli prisons.
The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has continued to punish the hunger-striking detainees by placing them in solitary confinement and denied family and legal visits of their lawyers since the strike began on the Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.
Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe on Sunday denied Israeli media reports that some 88 prisoners had ended their strike.
Israeli prison authorities have raided prison sections, seizing personal belongings and banning the hunger strikers from praying and taking breaks in prison yards.
Israeli prisons hold around 6,500 Palestinians, including 300 minors. Some of the inmates are held under Tel Aviv’s policy of administrative detention, which enables confinement without charge.
Palestinian inmates regularly stage hunger strikes in protest at the administrative detention policy and their harsh prison conditions.