San Francisco Armenian-American community marks 99 years since genocide 

The San Francisco Armenian-American community on Sunday plans to mark the 99th anniversary of what many say was the beginning of mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

Though the official anniversary was Thursday, a commemoration is planned for Sunday at the Mount Davidson Cross in The City.

Sunday is also Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the local Armenian community chose that day to bring attention to what many call the first modern genocide, an event that precedes the Holocaust by at least 25 years.

Estimates vary between scholars and sources over how many Armenians were killed between in 1914 and 1918, with some saying it was as much as 1.5 million.

At least 23 countries officially recognize that the Armenian genocide occurred. The U.S. is not among them. However, as of 2011, 43 states and several U.S. agencies and politicians do recognize it.

Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, says the word genocide is not an accurate description of what happened.

Alex Bastian, a spokesman and attorney in the District Attorney's Office who's also of Armenian descent, will be in attendance Sunday. He said commemorating the genocide is not just an Armenian issue but a matter of justice.

"This is a human rights issue," he said. "It's one of the reasons why I'm even involved in the justice system."

Sunday's commemoration will begin at 2 p.m. at the Mount Davidson Cross, which is the Armenian Genocide Memorial. It received that designation in 1997 after the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California bought the cross from San Francisco.

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