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Iran allows ethnic Armenians to mark alleged genocide

Tehran, April 23, IRNA-Iran on Saturday gave green light to its Armenian community to mark the 90th anniversary of the alleged massacre of their ancestors by the Ottoman Turks during World War I.

The authorization, issued by a commission which has representative from the government as well as the Judiciary and the legislature, will allow Iran's Armenians, reportedly numbering around 250,000, to commemorate the occasion along with the rest of their kins across the world on Sunday.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen perished in orchestrated killings between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey, was falling apart.

Ankara counters that 300,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in 'civil strife' during World War I when the Armenians rose against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.

Efforts by the Armenian community, which is represented by two MPs in the Iranian parliament, have led nowhere so far while they have pressed the government here to recognize the killings as genocide.

Tehran, however, enjoys close relations with Yerevan, with the two neighbors having signed a deal for the transfer of the Iranian gas to Armenia through a pipeline.

This has irked Shia-dominated Azerbaijan, the same dominant Muslim faith in Iran, which has long-simmering tensions with Armenia over the disputed enclave of Karabakh in the volatile Caucasus.

Armenia has controlled Karabakh and seven surrounding regions which make up 14 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory since the two former Soviet republics ended large-scale hostilities with a ceasefire in 1994.

... Payvand News - 4/23/05 ... --

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