Armenians pray for Gallipoli victims in historic service
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULMar 23, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Mar 23, 2015 12:00 am
Turkey's Armenian community held a landmark service yesterday at Istanbul churches for soldiers of all faiths who perished 100 years ago in the Battle of Gallipoli.
The Armenian community in Turkey came together for a historic religious service in memory of Christian, Muslim and Jewish soldiers who died in the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli.
Service-goers prayed for the fallen soldiers following Sunday masses in eight Armenian churches in Istanbul. Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, the patriarchal vicar of the Armenian Orthodox Church, gave the service at Yeşilköy Surp Stepanos Armenian Church.
In the sermon Aram Ateşyan prayed for the souls of everyone who perished at the Battle of Gallipoli, "be they Muslim, non-Muslim or atheist."
"Regardless of their ethnicity or faith, these people fought to preserve the existence of the country they lived in. May God grant them heaven and we pray that such sufferings will not be repeated," he said.
Following the service, Istanbul's Bakırköy Municipality hosted a lunch to break the fast on the occasion of the Orthodox Church's Great Lent.
Turkey marked the centenary of the battle on March 18. The Battle of Gallipoli was the culmination of a major push from Allied Forces seeking to control the Dardanelles during World War I. The naval battle saw heavy casualties both in Allied and Ottoman forces and was followed by a disastrous Allied landing in April 1915 that failed to capture the strategic area in northwestern Turkey.
A large number of non-Muslim troops fought in the Ottoman army along with Muslim troops both from present-day Turkey and former Ottoman territories stretching from the Balkans to the Middle East. Armenians and Greeks were among them and although their duty was largely confined to serve as back-up forces, many also served on the frontline. Historians say 299 Armenian doctors served as medics in the Ottoman army, based on archives of the Medical Corps.