April 24 (UPI) -- Thousands around the world on Monday marked the 102 anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Turkey's Ottoman Empire with protest gatherings and marches.
Rallies from Istanbul, Beirut and Paris to Ottawa and Los Angeles -- home to one of the largest Armenian communities outside Armenia -- demanded Turkish authorities stop their denial of the genocide.
"Wherever there are Armenians, there will be this ceremony," said Aram Karadaghlian, 31, one of the Beirut event's organizers."It's a duty. They come show respect and appreciation."
Historians estimate 1.5 million Armenians were killed in massacres organized by the Ottoman Empire government of Young Turks during World War I.
But Turkey has long denied genocide took place, arguing that the killings can't be separated from the upheaval of World War I.
"We're going to stand together to voice our desire for justice," Simon Izmirian, an executive member of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, said in a phone interview from Ottawa, "and for the perpetrators to be held accountable for what they've done in 1915."
U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.) and Dave Trott (R-Michigan) last month introduced a resolution asking Congress to formally recognize the genocide.
"Over 100 years ago, the Ottoman Empire undertook a brutal campaign of murder, rape, and displacement against the Armenian people that took the lives of 1.5 million men, women, and children in the first genocide of the 20th century," Schiff said in a statement.
"Genocide is not a historic relic — even today hundreds of thousands of religious minorities face existential threat from ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It is therefore all the more pressing that the Congress recognize the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide and stand against modern day genocide and crimes against humanity."