During the last 25 years, the Armenian Cause has made many inroads be that in the effort to attain international recognition of the Armenian Genocide or strengthening of an actual Armenian state and–of course–the liberation and subsequent creation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
These inroads have come at the great work of Armenia’s throughout the world, whose commitment and dedication to realizing the Armenian Cause has created a wave of successes and has placed the Armenian Cause on the international map.
It is especially significant today that we–as a nation–analyze our achievemen’s, assess our mistakes and recommit ourselves to the realization of the Armenian Cause–the establishment of Free, United and Independent Armenia.
Some may deem this goal a lofty one. We don’t believe it is. On July 27, 1983, five young Armenia’s sacrificed themselves at what they called “the altar of freedom,” by blowing themselves up in the Turkish Embassy compound in Lisbon. They will always remain the Lisbon 5–Simon Yaheneian, Vatche Daghlian, Sarkis Aprahamian, Setrak Adjemian and Ara Kerjelian.
As they characterized it at the time in communiques to the world, the press and the Portuguese authorities, the wall of silence surrounding the Armenian Genocide had become so thick, that the only way to penetrate that wall was to make the ultimate sacrifice for one’s country.
As we look back at these heroes and their selfless act, we cannot but conclude that their efforts were not in vain. In the 1980s their legacy was heard in the streets of Yerevan and Stepanakert where hundreds of thousands of Armenian demonstrated to demand the reunification of Armenia and Karabakh. In the 1990s the Lisbon Five’s legacy was lived by the equally selfless Karabakh freedom fighters who liberated the historic Armenian territory and established a democratic republic.
It would behoove the political players in Armenia today, especially the so-called opposition led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan to take a lesson from the sacrifice made by the Lisbon Five end political instigations in the name of preserving and advancing Armenian national interests.
So, 25 years later we can conclude that their “sacrifice at the altar of freedom” served as an impetus for an entire generation of Armenia’s to continue to fight for the Armenian Cause in order to ensure that future generations will actually see a Free, United and Independent Armenia.
As we mark the 25th anniversary of the Lisbon Five, the least we could do is to recommit ourselves to their ideals.