ENCINO–THE LOS ANGELES ARMENIAN COMMUNITY GATHERED ON JULY 27 TO CELEBRATE THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNFETTERED COMMITMENT OF THE FIVE ARMENIAN YOUTH WHO CAME TO BE KNOWN AS THE LISBON 5. ORGANIZED BY THE ARMENIAN YOUTH FEDERATION (AYF) SARDARABAD CHAPTER IN COOPERATION WITH THE CENTRAL EXECUTIVE OF THE AYF–THE COMMEMORATION TOOK PLACE AT THE FERRAHIAN AVEDISIAN HALL. AS THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER–CANADA ARMENIAN REVOLUTIONARY FEDERATION CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEMBER MHER KARAKASHIAN CONVEYED THE SHEER DEDICATION OF THE FIVE–OUR PRESENT STRIFE–AND THE FUTURE OF OUR MOVEMENT THAT HAS INHERITED SO MUCH FROM THE ACTIONS OF THE LISBON FIVE. THE FOLLOWING ARE EXCERPTS FROM KARAKAHIAN’S SPEECH.
"What they did transcends the bounds of mere action; it is the expression of the timeless attribute that has come down to us from the millennia of our history and contains within it the hidden meaning and secret of our nation’s survival. It is the mystery that–through the death of our people’s chosen progeny–gives life–rejuvenates–stirs–and becomes the assurance that there will be a future.
After one views the videotape they left behind–it becomes clear that they and their comrades in arms were not followers of a fleeting propaganda campaign–nor were they seeking sensational headlines in the news media; they were not fooled into thinking that through their act they would gain their deman’s–nor were they–however–the transmitters of a final–desperate act; they were not ideological extremists in the service of one or another power–nor were they blind and lost souls who–unaware of the disparity between their and the enemy’s strength–wasted their youthful lives in a pointless attempt. They are simply there–conversing clearly and piercingly–and their words–coupled with their superhuman act–to this day remain and will remain yet-to inform–to inspire–to alert–and to fulfill us.
[From video] "We do this act with faith. And not only faith but with spiritual calm. No one has compelled us to do this," says Simon–and Ara expands takes the matter of faith a step further when he says–"We must strengthen the faith toward the land…so that we may become the masters of our land. That the Turkish army is powerful is not the issue. We too are powerful…Faith comes from within…Faith can move mountains." Faith and land-at a time when there were still no victories in Artsakh or any tangible assurance that one day we would be able to tear asunder borders and maps foisted upon us by tyran’s [a reference to ARF founder Kristapor Mikayelian’s words].
When we grow weary on our journey; when confronted with widespread corruption and passive self-centeredness we begin to question the meaning of our efforts; when in our own surroundings we witness the growth of intolerance–petty calculations–and egocentrism; when the mentality of the bazaar–mediocrity–and superficiality dominate and prevent the taking root of profound values; when we feel drained of our ideological substance because–in our reality–any expression of it is dragged through the mud; and finally–when on the external front political changes and the course of events seem completely against us and we are tempted by doubt and conformity-as we waver–we will fix our sights on the holy site in the soil of which our five martyrs–forming an enduring foundation–will become the launch point of renewal–will strengthen and propel us–transforming weakness and passivity into dynamic forward movement. It cannot be otherwise.
We don’t have the luxury of coming to a stop–we don’t have the choice of turning back–and in the light of their shining example we especially don’t have the right to falter. In a word–we will not abandon their vision–we will continue our task at all costs and for the glory of all past and future selfless ones through whose sacred blood the dream of a united Armenia and Armenian nation will be realized.
ON BEHALF OF THE ARF YOUTH OF NORTH AMERICA–AYF EASTERN REGION CE MEMBER ANTRANIG KZIRIAN DELIVERED THE YOUTH ORGANIZATION’S MESSAGE:
These past 70 years are filled with scores of impressive accomplishmen’s encompassing various issues of concern to all Armenia’s. These past 70 years also brought tremendous charge and adversity for the Armenian nation. Changes and adversity that the AYF has tackled head on; changes and adversity that forged courage and provided guidance for Armenian youth.
The acts of 20 years ago represented the will of 5 individuals–5 individuals who were unabashedly committed to the Armenian cause. Through their noted and what the y left behind–we learned that these 5 young men no longer believed that recognition of and reparation for the Armenian Genocide and the return of Western Armenia was possible through peaceful discourse and political processes. The lack of recognition–the absence of acknowledgement for the acts of the Ottoman Ittihadists towards our people may have served as a catalyst for their actions–the excessive frustration–the cries for justice that were left unanswered.
Opinions obviously varied concerning the acts and fates of Sarkis–Setrag–Vache–Simon–and Ara. Some were grotesquely shocked–while some understood the significance of their act.
Although we sit her in the Diaspora away from our homeland–that striving for justice remains alive today in the AYF’s of North America. We collectively carry out the will of the Armenian people through our indefatigable efforts and our unmitigated dedication. Yet we must continue to sacrifice.
In an era of advanced technology and communication–we must seize the opportunities now before us. Our goals remain the same–yet our means are modified to maximize our successes. The world has undergone many changes in the past 20 years–and the AYF will continue to confront change with fortitude. We must also be cautioned to not forget our purpose in the comforts of our Diasporan habitat. Although we appreciate and enjoy our freedoms–the distractions of life today will not deter us from our goals.
We confront these challenges with renewed resolve and vigor–the AYF as a whole in North America carries on the will of the Armenian people. Our cause is just; we do not seek a fantastic gift or exorbitant glory. We seek to exercise our right as a nation–to survive–to carry on and fulfill our potential as the Armenian race.