BEIRUT: The Turkish ambassador to Lebanon was temporarily trapped inside a movie theater Wednesday, after Armenian protesters staged demonstrations outside it.

Roughly 60 protesters from the Armenian Tashnag party screamed slogans, such as “Genocide,” “Truth will triumph” and “We remember,” and held banners reading “Recognize the crime of the century,” referring to Turkey’s mass killings of Armenians a century ago.

Security forces blocked the entrance of ABC Ashrafieh’s Grand Cinema to prevent moviegoers from clashing with the protesters.

Ambassador Suleiman Inan Oz Yildiz had been watching the film “Son Mektup,” a Turkish love story set during the Battle of Gallipoli that recounts the story of the Ottoman Empire’s first pilot, Salih Ekrem.

A protester, who requested to remain anonymous, told The Daily Star that the protests stemmed from the perception that Turkey is trying to sway public attention away from the anniversary of the Armenian genocide by focusing on the Battle of Gallipoli.

The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-16, also known as the Battle of Gallipoli or the Dardanelles Campaign, was an unsuccessful attempt by the Allied Powers to control the sea route from Europe to Russia during World War I. The year the battle commenced, 1915, coincides with what is considered the beginning of Turkey’s discrimination against its Armenian population.

As the Armenian community prepares to commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, Istanbul has called on 100 heads of state to participate in a Turkish celebration on April 24 to commemorate the Battle of Gallipoli, read a statement released by the Armenian party’s student union.

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The Gallipoli commemoration, which will take place on the same day that the Armenian state will commemorate the centennial of the genocide, serves to divert public opinion away from the genocide, it added.

 

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