On Friday 24 April at 1:00 pm the bells of numerous churches around Sydney will be rung to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
The bells of St Mary’s Cathedral will join those of St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral, St Stephen’s Uniting Church and Orthodox Coptic and Oriental Churches across Sydney to mark the anniversary.
Sydney’s churches along with the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Holy Trinity at Wentworthville will toll 100 times to commemorate what Pope Francis described as “the first genocide of the 20th century.”
This special tribute to the estimated 1.5 million Armenian Christians massacred by the Ottoman Empire during World War I will be followed by the tolling of church bells in cities worldwide, including Armenia where the 100 tolls of church bells will take place at exactly 1900 hours 15 minutes, to symbolise 1915 when the massacre began.
The time of 1.00 pm for Sydney and Australia’s east coast represents the 100 years since the genocide began.
April 24 1915 is regarded as the starting date of the slaughter when Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested and subsequently executed 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders. Throughout World War I and in the months that followed, the massacre of Armenian Christians occurred in two phases, the first of which involved the forced labour and killing of Armenia’s able bodied male population, followed by the second phase involving the deportation of women, children and the infirm on death marches into the Syrian desert.
Modern day Turkey does not deny these massacres took place but denies it was genocide, claiming the mass killings were not deliberate or systematically orchestrated by the State. Instead the Turkish Government insists the deaths of Armenians were among the many casualties of the drawn out brutal 1914-18 Great War.