Armenians and Turks held demonstrations Tuesday in front of the Turkish embassy in the U.S. capital to mark the 103rd anniversary of the events of 1915 during the First World War.
Turkish Americans waved Turkish flags and displayed banners saying “Stop Armenian terrorism”, “Let History Decide” and “History cannot be rewritten with lies” while Armenians held banners and chanted against Turkey over the so-called "Armenian Genocide".
Along with Turkish and Azerbaijani residents of Washington D.C. and nearby states, prominent Turkish leaders such as Halil Mutlu, executive director of the Turkish American National Steering Committee, Turkish American attorney Gunay Evinc, directors of the Diyanet Center of America and Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kilic also participated in the demonstration.
During the demonstrations, which ended without incident under intense security, D.C. metropolitan police and secret service officers had to warn some demonstrators to stay in the designated areas.
A group of Turkish and Azerbaijani citizens also held demonstrations near the Tribune Tower in downtown Chicago.
Demonstrators carried Turkish, U.S., Azerbaijani and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus flags and held banners saying “No to Armenian Lies”, "Armenia Violates International Law" and “You can't open your archives because they are based on LIES".
The demonstrations also ended without incident after demonstrators performed the Turkish national anthem.
Turkey's position is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Ankara does not accept the alleged genocide but acknowledges that there were casualties on both sides during the events of World War I.
Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.
*Bilgin Sasmaz also contributed to this report from Chicago.