YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenians on Saturday streamed to the hilltop complex memorializing the victims of massacres, deportations and forced marches under the rule of Ottoman Turkey.
Many laid flowers around the eternal flame at the complex in the capital of Yerevan, creating a wall of blooms rising about two meters (7 feet) high by late afternoon.
Armenia marks the day as the anniversary of the 1915 rounding up of some 250 Armenian intellectuals, regarded as the first step of the killings that eventually took an estimated 1.5 million lives.
Armenia, many historians and some other countries call the killings the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey vehemently rejects that label, conceding that many died in that era, but insisting that the death toll is inflated and the deaths resulted from civil unrest.
U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to formally recognize the deaths as genocide on Saturday, U.S. officials told The Associated Press.
“If the U.S. President uses the term genocide, it will be an important step,” Armenian deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts said at the memorial on Saturday. “It will also serve as an example for the rest of the civilized world.”