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Serj Tankian: Gallipoli Pilgrimage Should Be Suspended

In an article published in New Zealand’s News Hub website, Tankian recalled that Erdogan-led government of Turkey spends millions of dollars annually in Washington and other capitals around the world lobbying against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

This week Alabama became the 49th US state (out of 50) to formally recognise the Armenian genocide committed by Ottoman Turkey in 1915. April 24 is marked as the date for its yearly commemoration, a day before Anzac, British, French and Indian forces landed at Gallipoli. The connection between Anzac Day and the genocide has been thoroughly discussed in articles and Newshub pieces by Tony Wright and NZ historian James Robins.

The government of Turkey, headed by its President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has spent millions of dollars annually in Washington and other capitals around the world lobbying against the recognition of the genocide, marring the memory of 1.5 million victims of this horrible tragedy during WWI.

As an Armenian-American-Kiwi whose grandparents witnessed the atrocities first-hand, I've always seen Anzac tourist trips to Gallipoli simply as Turkish propaganda. I do respect families paying homage to their fallen heroes, but do not trust the intentions of modern-day Turkey's leaders.

This week, in NZ, we experienced one of the most horrid episodes of our modern history with the shooting of innocent worshippers at the two mosques in Christchurch by a lone gunman with Australian citizenship (I also refuse to use his name). In the aftermath of the shooting we became aware that Erdogan has been repeatedly playing an edited version of the shooter's video at local election rallies and blatantly threatening New Zealanders and Australians with statements like, "Your grandparents came, some of them returned in coffins. If you come as well like your grandfathers, be sure that you will be gone like your grandfathers."

My question to decision makers around the world is this: What is it going to take for you to realise that the appeasement of a corrupt despot who imprisons journalists, opposition leaders and minorities (mostly Kurds), has allowed ISIS access to hospitals and cafes in Istanbul, has blatantly killed ethnic Kurds within Turkey and in Syria, has denigrated women, been investigated for embezzlement and corruption, fired more than 100,000 teachers, police, professors who he deemed colluders with Fethullah Gülen, and vehemently denies the genocide of Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks, and on and on, will only lead to further devastation within his country and destabilisation within the whole region and the world?

Seriously, what are you waiting for? Another genocide perhaps?

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