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…