In a show of unity Tuesday, Armenians marked the anniversary of the massacre of 1.5 million of their kin by Ottoman forces in 1915, a day after leader Serzh Sarkisian resigned after days of protests.
The commemorations are a hugely emotional event for the country and Armenians of all stripes flocked to a hilltop memorial in the capital Yerevan with flowers in their hands to honor the victims of the World War I-era killings.
This year’s events were held a day after Sarkisian, who the opposition accused of a blatant power grab, stunned the country by saying he was in the wrong and resigning after 10 days of protests.
Commemorations at the Tsitsernakaberd memorial in Yerevan -- the country’s most visited landmark -- were led by the acting head of government, Karen Karapetyan, and the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II.
Protest leader Nikol Pashinyan was expected to lead supporters to the memorial later Tuesday.
Ahead of the commemorations both Pashinyan and Karapetyan urged unity in the former Soviet republic.
“Tomorrow we will go together to tell our martyrs that the people have won, that the genocide for our people is in the past,” Pashinyan said late Monday.
Karapetyan called on Armenians to show the world that “we can unite in critical times, hold negotiations and find logical solutions”.