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Times Square rally commemorates Armenian Genocide

Anahid Ugurlayan, holding sign, attends the 98th Anniversary

Anahid Ugurlayan, holding sign, attends the 98th Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian genocide in Times Square. (April 21, 2013) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

A 16-year-old sign, weathered and held together with tape, helped Anahid Ugurlayan on Sunday honor her grandfather at a Manhattan rally that commemorated the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians nearly a century ago.

"If we don't acknowledge the genocide, if we don't learn from the mistakes of the past," said Ugurlayan, 37, of Jackson Heights, Queens, "we're bound to repeat them."

Her grandfather was a genocide survivor, she said.

"I will never forget," reads the sign that she said she brings every year to the annual rally, which attracted hundreds to Times Square on Sunday to mark the 98th anniversary of the massacre under the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire.

Attendees demanded that the United States and Turkish governments formally recognize the genocide and urged younger generations to never forget the atrocity. Turkey has rejected the term "genocide" and regards the killings as a consequence of war.

Speakers Sunday acknowledged the large Armenian population in Watertown, Mass., the site of firefights last week that led to the death of one Boston Marathon bombing suspect and the arrest of another.

Armenian-Americans at the rally, which took place in a pedestrian plaza ringed with NYPD barricades and guarded by dozens of police officers, said the violence in Boston had not deterred them from attending.

"I always feel safe in New York," said Aret Kartalyan, 53, of Ridgewood, N.J., who brought his father and daughter to the event.

Sunday was his 20th year at the rally, he said. "It has to change," he said of the lack of formal recognition of the genocide. "It's been almost a century, and, if Turkey continues to deny it, it's never going to end."

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