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Atrocities 'Disgrace of Twentieth Century'

His Holiness Karekin II, Archbishop of Canterbury, Rvd Geoffrey Rowell

Tuesday 25th September 2007

In Armenia, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said that genocide and violence targeted against whole communities is 'one of the greatest disgraces of the twentieth century'.

Speaking during a ceremony on Tuesday 25 September at the Genocide Memorial at Tsitsernakaberd in Yerevan, during his visit to Armenia, he said that such atrocities had scarred the international community.

"This ceremony reminds us of one of the greatest disgraces of the twentieth century ... the history of brutal massacres of whole peoples on ethnic and religious grounds; the turning away of the rest of the world and the denial of the suffering of the victims throughout the 20th century - this has been one of the most regular and terrible features of international conflict."

During the ceremony, which included commemoration of the victims of Darfur, Dr Williams said that the world needed to understand the past and to face up to unpleasant truths:

"My most earnest prayer is that as our new century begins we shall somehow learn to put behind us both the cruelty and the denial; both the terrible violence that puts whole populations at risk, that wipes out new generations that is merciless towards women and children but also that we will learn how to tell the truth about our past, that to stand by the side of those who suffer most and how to build together in which such atrocities are not possible."

"In Yad Vashem in Jerusalem the text from scripture is written 'O Earth, cover not their blood.' So we pray that God will help us keep our eyes open to the reality of injustice and of suffering, that the blood will not be covered and that also we will be given forgiveness and strength for our journey ahead."

Dr Williams' visit to the region continues: today in Syria he met with President Assad and also with the Grand Mufti, Shaikh Ahmad Hassun, in Damascus.

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