More than one million Armenians and several world leaders gathered in the country's capital Yerevan Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Between 1915 and 1923, over 1.5 million Armenians were killed as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. At least 20 nations have described the heinous acts a genocide, with many more following suit, while many scholars have called it the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey disagrees that the massacres constitute a genocide and has spoken out against nations who chose to define them as such – including pulling its ambassador from Vienna earlier this week after the Austrian parliament called the massacre a genocide. The United States has also refused to call the events a genocide.
More than a dozen world leaders attended the commemoration ceremony Friday, which started with a moment of silence for the victims. Russian president Vladimir Putin and French president Francois Hollande were among those present.
“The wound is bleeding, because there is too much neutrality, silence and denial around the world, and there is still too little humanity,” said Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan.
The country has been observing the anniversary of the mass killings in special ceremonies all week including a massive canonization service which named the 1.5 million Armenians killed as martyrs.