Saturday 22 October 2016

Demonstrators echo George Clooney's call for Armenian genocide to be recognised

Published 23/04/2016 | 11:36

Actor George Clooney attends the laying of the flowers at a genocide memorial in Yerevan. Photo: Getty Images
Actor George Clooney attends the laying of the flowers at a genocide memorial in Yerevan. Photo: Getty Images

Thousands of demonstrators demanding recognition for the Armenian genocide have marched in the country's capital.

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Around 15,000 protesters gathered in an all-night protest in at the genocide memorial in Yerevan on the same day that actor George Clooney visited the city calling for the world to recognise the events of 1915 as genocide.

Armenians say the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million of its people, beginning 101 years ago on April 24 1915.

Modern day Turkey strongly dispute claims that the events were a genocide and the figures stated.

Just a handful of countries officially recognise the events of 1915 as genocide, including France and Russia.

Those attending the event laid flowers, lit torches and a small crowd burnt Turkish and Azerbaijani flags.

Armenia has a fraught relationship with neighbours Azerbaijan over the conflicted Nagorno-Karabakh region, where around 75 soldiers were killed earlier this month after an outbreak of fighting.

Earlier in the day Clooney called on politicians to recognise the Armenian genocide at a global forum in Yerevan on the topic.

He said: "When someone is trying to annihilate a whole human race, culture, people, that's genocide, there can be no other version of it."

"What we are doing today has two objectives. First, we have to look back into the past and remember that it's not the pain of a particular country or people, it's part of world history. Second, we need to move forward."

During his visit Clooney will attend a flower laying event at the Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan with the country's president.

The Oscar-award winning actor will also hand out a one million US dollar (£700,000) award on Sunday at a humanitarian conference held to recognise those who put themselves at risk to save the lives of others.

Clooney has long taken an interest in humanitarian issues and co-founded the international relief charity Not On Our Watch with fellow Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Brad Pitt.

On Saturday Clooney said the "suffocation" caused by his fame forced him to use the attention to focus on those "who couldn't get any cameras on them at all", after reading about atrocities being committed in Sudan's Darfur region in the early 2000s.

Clooney said: "Fame has an interesting element to it but if you tend to be followed round by a camera then you can feel suffocated at times."

"I thought it might be effective if I went to those places and got those cameras to follow me and try and amplify these stories of NGOs who were doing such hard work, such dangerous work."

Press Association

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