EDITORIAL: Remembering the Heroes of Lisbon 5

The Lisbon 5

It has been 30 years since that fateful day in July (27) of 1983 when five young Armenians set out to advance the Armenian Cause and through their ultimate sacrifice emboldened the entire Armenian Nation, but more important, elevated the demand for justice for the Armenian Genocide to new heights.

Vatche Daghlian. Sarkis Aprahamian. Ara Kerdjelian. Setrak Adjemian. Simon Yahneian. In an insta-second these five names were seared in our national psyche and consciousness and they became symbols of a national liberation struggle.

At the time, the international community had turned a deaf ear to the Armenian Cause. Many needed to be reminded of the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide and for many, it just did not matter. The world superpowers were courting Turkey and bolstering it into the whore that it has become. Matters needed to be handled differently—more forcefully.

Before Lisbon 5, there were others who advanced the Armenian Cause through the Armed Struggle of the 70’s and 80’s. Together these freedom fighters and the heroes of Lisbon elevated the just demands of the Armenian people and brought to the forefront the demands of an entire nation, which vowed for justice after reeling from the impact of the Genocide.

While we remember our heroes and reflect of their selfless act, we must, 30 years later, assess their legacy and recalibrate our efforts in the continuous pursuit of the Armenian Cause.

The dedication and sacrifice of the Lisbon 5 would come alive five years later on the battlefields of Artsakh when Armenians once again took up arms to defend the homeland against the blood-thirsty enemy.

The discussion and subsequent recognition by some countries of the Armenian Genocide can also be deemed as the direct result of the heroic acts of those who made the sacrifices so our national aspirations may advance.

It is undeniable that the events of 30 years ago and the selfless sacrifice by the Lisbon 5 instilled in us the drive to redouble our efforts to advance our cause and to sacrifice our time, resources and energy toward our goals and ideals.

The Lisbon 5 took ownership of the cause and by paying the ultimate price with their lives, proved to the Armenian Nation and the world that there is no limit on sacrifice when it comes to your beliefs and ideals—to liberating your Nation.

A generation later and in an evolving socio-political landscape with enormous challenges facing our nation, we need to recalibrate our approaches and apply the lessons of sacrifice embodied by the Lisbon 5 and ask ourselves—individually and collectively—whether we are doing our utmost for the advancement of the Armenian Cause.

The new generation, especially, must heed the call and embody the lessons of the Lisbon 5 legacy since it is they who will be leading our nation into the future. Their commitment, dedication and sacrifice will be the gauge by which our nation will advance.

“I will die without having seen the motherland. I don’t care. Others will see it…” So said Setrak Adjemian before he and his four friends headed to Lisbon in July of 1983. Others did…

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  1. bigmoustache said:

    WOW great article. we need those young tashnags again for our struggles against turkey, azerbaijan and the corrupt Armenian government

    • Hratch said:

      Let’s start with the corrupt Armenian government and then on to bigger things……

  2. Robert said:

    Not withstanding the deep held beliefs of the Lisbon 5 which one would hope were of pure intention, the idea of defending terrorism, is I think not ethical, nor smart. Lets not forget that the dead from that incident included a Turkish diplomat’s wife and a Portuguese policeman. To defend such actions and/or make heroes of it, is in my mind not very different than the Azeris making a hero of the axe-murder Ramil Safarov. Do we really want to be of the same mindset?

    This of course is not to say that the Armenian Cause, Hye Tad, should not be advanced. On the contrary, we should look for constructive ways to do this, i.e. the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and ensuing reparations, and the building up of the Armenian nation economically, politically, militarily and otherwise. I don’t see how supporting terrorism in any way helps that effort.

    Thinking back some 30 years ago, times have certainly changed for the Armenian people, that is a free Armenia and a liberated Artsakh (Karabakh). So I think it better not to judge the Lisbon 5 for their actions of a different time than today, either in a positive or negative light. Rather, it seems more fitting to consider how unfortunate that those young men of the Lisbon 5, that met their death some 30 years ago, were not able to see the dream of a free Armenia for themselves.

    • bigmoustache said:

      were way past the opinions of others. the world did nothing while we were being massacred during Abdul hamids, talaats and ataturks reign. they did nothing when Azerbaijan tried to do the same in artsakh. your comparison is not right. this Turkish government is no different than the one that massacred our grandparents. they were never made to pay for their crimes or prevented from continuing their policies. its as if the Nazi regime was never toppled and brought to justice. if some jewish militant took matters into their own hands the world would understand that, and they have done that. mossad has killed Nazi war criminals in foreign countries before. the target of jcag/ara attacks were only Turkish diplomats, embassadors or military attaches, who are a representative of the same Turkish republic that tried to wipe out Armenia and who continue denying their atrocities thereby committing the final act of genocide. we never ever committed genocide, we fought in artsakh to prevent one. those boys sacrificed themselves for justice and to boost Armenian morale which was in a victims mindset for 100 years.

      • Vartan Papaz said:

        Bigmoustache – the point is that those who targeted were not the actual perpetrators of the Genocide. There is a big difference in targeting Talaat and other Young Turks in the 1920s and a Turkish diplomat serving in the 1980s.

    • Craigprophet said:

      You’re right by saying no one should defend terrorism, Robert. But the unpunished genocide and it’s consequences not only relegated our nation into oblivion, it gave us no alternative. These men changed that. Just like the fedayees and the Monte’s who acted instead of bowing their heads to the oncoming sword. they changed the course of our history and their actions help us see ourselves as holding our destiny in our own hands

  3. Alex Postallian said:

    Don’t forget Calouste Sarkis Gulbenian,lived in Lisbon for years……..He did very much for the Armenians.He bribed the turks for 52%,of the Turkish petroleum co. bardered that,was nucleus of the oil companies in the world.He got 5% of all the oil out of Iraq.He was the richest man in the world..donating a lot of money to the Armenians.

  4. Stephen T. Dulgarian said:

    We will not forget the sacrifice of our brothers in arms of the Lisbon 5. The world powers never backed up the Armenian Nation after the 1st World War and because of that numerous Armenians have sacrificed their lives for their nation. God Bless the Lisbon 5.

  5. GeorgeMardig said:

    Whover denies the Armenian Genocide is a partner in the crime

  6. Diane Kupelian said:

    I don’t support terrorism. I appreciate their dedication to the Armenian cause, but they were misguided. One event that made a huge change for the Armenian cause was the conference on the Holocaust in Tel Aviv in 1982 organized by Israel Charney. He invited some Armenian psychiatrists, and Turkey went nuts. There was an enormous uproar, and the upshot was that the entire academic world suddenly was introduced to the news that the Armenian Genocide was an issue that the governments of Turkey and Israel worked hard to suppress and deny. There were hundreds of Jewish scholars from all over the world who had direct with that controversial conference, and who became strong advocates of the Armenian cause. Where ever possible, find a nonviolent way.

  7. Jacque said:

    For anyone to judge the Lisbon 5 as a wrong doing, has no idea about the movement nor the sacrifice young Armenians had endured during the Lebanese civil war . After all the Lebanese war created the perfect atmosphere for the arm struggle of the Armenian revolutionary army.
    It’s not terrorism but freedom fighting and yes there where collateral damages as there are in any war and it should have never stopped. Those operations didn’t only woke the world and reminded them about the Armenian Genocide, more importantly they woke up the Armenian people that where in sleep and forgetting mode for 50 years.
    Yes every person, Turk or not that denies the Genocide is a fair game and an accomplice to the Armenian Genocide no matter what year it is, 1927 or 1983 or 2025 .
    We Armenians have to stop to think that the world is a good place and we’re judged according to our actions.
    What khrimian hayrig said after Berlin in 1878 still applies, only by the power of guns we can have salvation.
    100 years has past the white Genocide is in full force, now it’s no time to talk or retreat but to take the fight into their hearts.
    Time is ripe, Turkey and the world is changing corse, we have to put all our Armenian efforts into convincing the US and NATO that eastern Turkey is western Armenia according to Sevre and we the refugee sons and daughters of those lands want it back and permit NATO bases to remain on our lands by creating western Armenia.
    If we really want our historical homeland, we can’t afford to count the casualties.
    And stop the soft talk, Oh we can’t go down to their level, it doesn’t make us better then the Ax murderer .
    Well then they’re going to keep on killing our people, anywhere and anytime they can, from the street of Azerbaijan to streets of Istanbul to Washington DC.. did you forget what Erdogan’s guards did to peaceful protesters? And what did the US do? Those guards should have been put down like the dogs that they are, kicking unarmed old men and women.
    Wake up, be ready and hit hard when time comes.
    Our Lisbon 5 heroes will always live in our hearts and our history, god bless them and may they Rest In Peace.