In lieu of the annual procession of government officials to the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex, this year each leader separately made the pilgrimage there to honor the victims of the Armenian Genocide and to assert the imperative of the international recognition of the crime.
On Friday morning, President Armen Sarkissian, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his spouse Anna Hakobyan, National Assembly Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan and Armenia’s High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan were among the leaders to visit Dzidzernagapert and pay their respects.
In Artsakh, President Bako Sahakian visited the Armenian Genocide memorial in Stepanakert and issued a statement. Also issuing a statement on Friday was Artsakh’s president-elect Arayik Harutyunyan.
Asbarez published an address by President Sarkissian on Thursday. On Friday, Pashinyan made an address to the Armenian people from Dzidzernagapert.
Below we present excerpts from Pashinyan’s remarks, as well as statements from Sahakian, Sinanyan and Harutyunyan.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan
Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia,
Proud citizens of the Republic of Artsakh,
Proud Diaspora-based Armenians,
Today, April 24, 2020 marks the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Ottoman Turkey’s long-standing policy of Armenophobia culminated in 1915 during the Young Turk government.
Due to the Genocide that had been perpetrated at the state level for many years, Western Armenia was completely emptied of Armenians. 1.5 million of our compatriots were killed, hundreds of thousands of Armenians became refugees, deprived of the right to live in their historical homeland.
Due to the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian people not only suffered enormous human losses, but were subjected to deportation and a cultural genocide. The loss of the spiritual and religious heritage was irreparable; its material damage was enormous.
The Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire was a crime not only against our ethnic identity, but also against human civilization. And April 24, 1915, became the strongest symbol of this whole process, because on that very day hundreds of Armenian intellectuals, religious and political figures were arrested, exiled, killed or disappeared by order of the Young Turk government.
For 55 years now, we have been commemorating the victims of the Armenian Genocide on April 24. For the first time, it was marked in 1965, when thousands of Armenians were allowed to hold a mass commemorative event in Yerevan. This was not only due to the “thaw” in the Soviet Union, but also to the fact that in 1946-49 about a hundred thousand Armenians, mostly descendants of Genocide victims, repatriated and became an integral part of Soviet Armenia. The government of Soviet Armenia decided to declare April 24 a day of remembrance for Genocide victims and to build a memorial in Tsitsernakaberd. That majestic monument became a vivid symbol of our people’s eternity.
At the same time, a movement for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide started in the colonies of the Armenian Diaspora. The movement that spearheaded the political and social structures in the Diaspora for many decades succeeded in many countries owing to advocates’ tireless efforts.
The Armenian Genocide has been officially recognized by 30 countries around the world, and we are grateful to all those states, international organizations, religious and secular leaders who expressed solidarity with the Armenian people and recognized and condemned the Armenian Genocide.
Armenians all over the world are today commemorating the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide. Why did our feelings failed to fade away after a century, and the memory is now even brighter in our hearts? The answer is simple. More than a century has passed, but the consequences of the Genocide have not been eliminated. Turkey has not yet apologized for what it did. That is why we declare that we remember and demand.
At the same time, we consider that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not only our national cause, but it is a matter of global agenda, because April 24 is not only a day of remembrance for our innocent victims, but a day of commemoration of a major crime committed against mankind, a day of calling for the fight against denial, a day of responsibility to prevent other serious crimes against humanity.
And yet, April 24 is first of all the most compelling opportunity to think about the past and the future of our nation, our people, the right moment for self-recognition, for appreciating our strength and the steps to take ahead.
So, what conclusions should we draw from April 24?
First, the Young Turk government issued a death sentence against the Armenian people in 1915 and did everything to enforce that awful decision. The one and a half million sanctified Armenian martyrs strengthened our will to live, create, get stronger, remember and demand; our nation triumphed over death.
The second and equally important consequence is that we are still facing the challenges posed to our people at the outset of the twentieth century. And the only way to effectively defy these challenges is to have a powerful statehood and build an Armenia ready to face security threats.
Yes, we must spare no effort to achieve a lasting peace in the region, to resolve all disputes and conflicts on the basis of mutual respect by means of negotiations and through peaceful means. But only a capable, dignified and sovereign state can defend itself.
Yes, we must spare no effort to deepen our relations with our allies, to make them more institutional and reliable, and to increase the number of our allies in the world. But only a capable, dignified and sovereign state can create a real opportunity to achieve such a result.
In order to have a highly capable, dignified and sovereign state, we need an education system that meets all modern standards, a dynamically developing high-tech economy, a well-established military-industrial complex, a powerful army and special services. By consolidating the pan-Armenian potential around the Armenian statehood we will guarantee our nation’s scientific, diplomatic and economic progress.
To solve this practical problem, we must be able to formulate our national concept, our national ideology, our vision, which will form nationwide consensus on our national values, national goals and national strategy, which will protect, preserve and develop our identity. It will provide guarantees for our competitiveness in the modern world and in the future. In the near future, I will present a draft of such a concept and strategy for a pan-Armenian discussion.
This year we are marking April 24 in exceptional conditions. The new type of coronavirus has placed us all in an unimaginable situation when the 55-year-old April 24 march of hundreds of thousands of citizens shall not be held in a bid to avoid the current epidemic.
First of all, I would like to thank all our compatriots for their understanding of the government’s decision. I should note that our compatriots are facing a similar situation in the Diaspora.
April 24 has been a symbol of our national unity, consolidation and discipline for many years. This symbol must be much stronger, much more visible today, and I am sure it will be such.
Long live freedom!
Long live the Republic of Armenia!
Long live the Republic of Artsakh!
Long live the Armenian Diaspora!
Long live us and our children, who now live and will live in a free and happy Armenia!
We remember and demand!”
Artsakh President Bako Sahakian
Today, it is the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Today, we pay homage to the memory of our innocent victims in special conditions. This year, due to the pandemic of the novel coronavirus spread all over the world, the memorials to the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide will not be as crowded as they are every year.
However, I am more than confident, that every single Armenian in any corner of the world is mentally experiencing this dreadful tragedy that happened more than a century ago, mourning for our brothers and sisters, millions of mutilated destinies, who have been subjected to unspeakable violence and torture, starvation and massacres, left without home and shelter.
We live through this with deep pain and sorrow, at the same time full of faith that such cruel and inhuman crimes will never be repeated, not only with our people, but all over the world.
And there is only one way to achieve this: genocides should be unconditionally recognized and condemned. We are grateful to those countries, all those people who are with us in this struggle.
We all must learn lessons from history, must learn from today’s reality and do everything in our power to make the Armenian statehood and Mother Armenia stronger and more powerful day by day, to preserve the steadfastness of our unity, the inviolability and inevitability of the eternity path of the Armenian people.
Armenia’s High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan
Dear compatriots, Armenians around the world,
Today we commemorate the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide. 105 years have passed since the first horrific genocide of the 20th century. The loss of a million and a half human lives, a homeland, a cultural heritage, became a bloody page of tragic destinies in our collective history. That page will forever remain in our memory and our demand for justice, keeping us vigilant and determined in the face of all challenges. Because of the Genocide, we inadvertently became a people of all nations, whose core is Armenia. But by re-establishing Armenian statehood and liberating Artsakh, our identity is no longer that of a victim, but a state-centered person, who proudly bears their origin, history and ancestors. The ancestors who built a state on the ashes and ruins of a small piece of our historical homeland, who defeated the deserts of Der Zor in the struggle for life, and who found themselves across oceans taking their homeland in their hearts, never forgetting their right to historical justice and revenge.
This day is of special significance for our compatriots in the Diaspora. Who, living far from their homeland, feel the pain of the yet unhealed wounds of the Genocide more severely. It is the pain of loss and impunity, injustice and denial, the driving force of the institutions, organizations and individuals in the Diaspora who are at the forefront of the fight for recognition, for international condemnation and genocide prevention. Due to their great efforts and unwavering commitment, one of the most important issues on the foreign policy agenda of the Republic of Armenia has made great progress.
On this difficult path, as in any other issue of pan-Armenian significance, we have been united by will and work. I would like to express my gratitude to all the Diaspora devotees of the past and present involved in the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, and the Armenian Cause. Kneeling before the immortal memory of the innocent victims, we reaffirm that the Armenian nation, united around our statehood, is invincible.
Artsakh President-Elect Arayik Harutyunyan
Dear compatriots in the homeland and the Diaspora,
The recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide by the civilized world is not only a unique assessment to the terrible hardships suffered by the Armenian people or a tribute to the memory of one and a half million martyrs. It first of all is a sense of responsibility to God and generations, instead of which, we for already 105 years are still witnessing a policy of denial. But the demand of the Armenian Cause is universal and has no expiration date.
We will surely continue the endless fight for the eternity of our people by further strengthening our united homeland where citizen will always have a complete sense of hope and conditions for security, self-realization and future. This is my and our vision.
We remember and demand.