2015: A Year in Review for the Armenian Genocide Centennial

Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Armenia. (Source: Armenpress)
Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Armenia. (Source: Armenpress)

Dzidzernagaper Memorial Complex in Armenia. (Source: Armenpress)

YEREVAN (Armenpress)— 2015 marked a memorable year filled with events dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Centennial in and outside of Armenia.  These events proved to have powerful impacts as they helped achieve great lengths in the fight for justice. Therefore, it becomes very important to review the events in the past year to see the contributions that have been made as a result, and how Armenians have moved forward as a people.

The year began with the presentation of the Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Armenian Genocide Centennial by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisan at the session of the State Commission on Coordination of Events for the Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Following the session of the State Commission, Sarkisan, accompanied by the commission members and the participants of the meeting, visited the Dzidzernagapert Memorial Complex, where the proclamation ceremony of the Pan-Armenian Declaration for the Armenian Genocide Centennial took place. The declaration had been adopted unanimously on the same day at the session of the State Commission on Coordination of the events for the Armenian Genocide Centennial.

In March, Yerevan hosted the 5th media forum “At the Foot of Ararat”. Media representatives, scientists, political and public figures from different countries, including Turkey, arrived in Yerevan.

The forum was held under the motto “I remember and demand” and took place from March 18 to 20. The discussions were comprised of four thematic principles- remembrance, gratitude, revival and international campaign for the recognition of genocides. The Armenian President gave a speech at the forum touching upon the issue of Turkish policy of denial, as well as several other issues. Sarkisian mentioned that he would like to pay tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of the Genocide together with the Turkish people. .

On April 12, the attention of the Christian world and the entire world was focused on Vatican, Holy City of Catholics. Pope Francis delivered a Divine Liturgy at St. Peter’s Basilica dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Centennial. This was a historical event, as the leader of the Catholic Church for the first time delivered a liturgy marking the Genocide. The leader of the Catholic Church also proclaimed St. Gregory of Narek the Doctor of the Universal Church. He mentioned during the liturgy that the Armenian nation became the victim of the first genocide of the 20th century and it is necessary to remember the 100th anniversary of that endless tragedy as whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester.

The political and religious leaders of Armenia including President Sargsyan, Catholicos Karekin II,  Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I,  and the Patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church Nerses Bedros XIX attended the event.

The next event took place from April 22 to 23 when Armenia hosted the social-political global forum titled “Against the Crime of Genocide”. This forum brought together 600 participants including politicians, diplomats, scientists, scholars, genocide experts, representatives of the Christian Church, and representatives of the Armenian Diaspora.

The two-day forum was saturated with various speeches, which unanimously condemned genocides while trying to find methods to prevent them. The Global Forum called on Armenia to assume the role of front fighter against genocides by creating and administering a center of genocides.

On April 23, a canonization ceremony of Armenian Genocide victims took place in the religious capital of Armenia, Etchmiadzin. Upon the end of the canonization ceremony an all-national minute of silence was announced. Before the minute of silence, the bells of the Armenian Apostolic Church and all Armenian churches around the world rang 100 times, symbolizing the 100 years after the Armenian Genocide.

On the same day, April 23, the main performance of “Wake up the Souls” concert tour by world famous “System of a down” rock group took place in the Republican Square of Yerevan. Over 50 thousand people attended the concert irrespective of the heavy rain.  The concert lasted 3 hours and was accompanied by short-length films about the recognition of the Genocide. The concert symbolized revival. All members of the group are descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors.

April 24 was both an extraordinary and strictly usual day for Armenians.  Thousands of Armenians and foreigners silently walked to the hill of Dzidzernagapert with flowers in their hands. Most of them had forget-me-not symbols stuck on them. Presidents of Russia, France, Serbia and Cyprus were with the Armenian people on the day of the Armenian Genocide Centennial. The event going on at Tsitsernakaberd was broadcasted live by many leading world TV channels. Over one billion people watched it on TV.

The traditional torchlight procession took place a little before midnight on April 24, 2015, consolidating thousands of youth of different genders, specialization, preferences, and political parties. Before the procession would start, the participants honored the memory of the innocent martyrs of the Armenian genocide with a minute of silence and then burnt the national flag of Turkey as a sign of protest. This was the 16th torchlight procession in Yerevan.

Armenian Genocide commemoration ceremonies were also organized different diasporas around the world as well either on April 24 or days leading up to it. Some of these events included events in New York City, Beirut, and the March for Justice in Los Angeles which was attended by over 160,000 participants.

The twelfth meeting of International Association of Genocide Scholars, themed “Comparative Analysis of 20th Century Genocides” took place in Yerevan from July 8 to 12. 130 experts from 35 countries participated in the meeting in Yerevan. They discussed genocides and other relevant issues.

On September 26, the State Commission on Coordination of the events for the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial convoked the last, 6th session of the year to present the results of the saturated year and coordinate future steps. During the session, it was decided to form a pan-Armenian Council on the basis of the State Commission.

More initiatives are still taking place and will continue to take place as Armenians from various corners of the world continue to demand for justice and work for a cause that is so crucial to them.

All of these events that took place brought a great deal of attention around the world about the Armenian Genocide Centennial, and the justice that has not been served 100 years later. They helped spread awareness and educated the masses in various methods that proved to be very successful and monumental. 2015 will go down as a strong and powerful year for Armenians worldwide.


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One Comment;

  1. Robert Bedrosian said:

    It was and is a magnificent, breath-taking commemoration.

    One big disappointment for me, however, was the silence of our President Obama. Maybe “Strategic Shallowness” is the name for it. In any case, remaining silent at such a time will also be a part of his legacy.

    Still, he still has a year. Wouldn’t it be great if he gave us a description of the pressures he was subjected to, or the “considerations” he had? He could tell us all about the shabby antics of international politics and blackmail. He was a professor of constitutional law once, wasn’t he? Such a “teach-in” could be educational for us and redemptive for him.

    In any case, he did not diminish the splendor of the commemoration. Rather, his silence has diminished him.

    Robert Bedrosian