BY HAIG KAYSERIAN
Armenians have just commemorated the 105th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide while the world is grappling with the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. There were fears this pandemic, which has stopped movement in favor of lifesaving isolation, will dim the light that is usually shone on the Armenian Cause.
Unfortunately for Turkey, who continues denying the murder of 1.5 million Armenians and over 1 million Assyrians and Greeks, it was not to be. And the reason is… Millennials.
The generation that is much-maligned in the global Armenian community, and more broadly, for spending too much time on their computers and smart devices rather than “the real world” were faced with an opportunity to lead the battle for justice for the Armenian Genocide in 2020.
And they took that opportunity with both hands and feet.
Across the world, Armenian communities were able to tune in to digital Commemoration events and participate in social network education and activism – in the most part, led by 22-37 year-olds – to ensure the light for justice is shining brighter than ever before.
On April 20th, the Armenian Youth Federation of the Western Region of the United States of America had me glued to my computer for Sounds of Our Cause.
Here, Claudia Mehranbod took me into the living rooms of incredibly talented Armenian-American musicians and vocalists, including Raffi Massoyan, Shant Massoyan, Krista Marina, Greg Hosharian and Tro Krikorian, who played and sung Armenian tunes to show that the Young Turk goal to rid the world of our rich culture failed miserably.
18,000+ people have joined me in tuning into this innovative broadcast.
The Australian National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, which featured messages from politicians including the Premier of Australia’s largest state of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian and American-Armenian resident of New Zealand Serj Tankian, as well as a keynote feature film on Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort aiding orphans of the Genocide, registered over 15,000 tuning in on 26 Facebook pages of Armenian-Australian organisations and another 2,000 viewers on YouTube, as well as several hundred on Twitter’s Periscope.
Asbarez twice broadcast the Western Region of the United States Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide to a combined audience of over 13,000 on April 24th, featuring community and political messages in solidarity with descendants of survivors of 1915, while their Facebook Live Q & A with Intent To Destroy Director Joe Berlinger and Producer Eric Esraelian has seen over 48,000 tune in.
The Armenian National Committee of Canada also featured a virtual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, which featured documentary content as well as messages from community leaders and musical numbers from community artists.
The ANC of Europe (European Federation for Justice and Democracy) played video messages from their leadership as well as from politicians, who expressed their solidarity for the Armenian Cause on their Facebook page, while a powerful video combining messages of Armenian Youth Federations from around the world was premiered by AYF Belgium and an inspirational video combining messages of Armenian National Committees from around the world was premiered by Zavarian Students Association of Lebanon.
The Armenian Youth Federation of the Western Region of the United States of America was back on the social airwaves on April 25th, this time with their own inspirational digital program commemorating the Armenian Genocide for over 17,000 who tuned in.
The Armenian Youth Federation of Australia took us on a journey to our roots in their “Return to Your Roots” interactive broadcast, where participants were able to comment under their video with the Western Armenian towns and villages they were from. These were virtually mapped out, showing where their families would be living had the Armenian Genocide not taken place.
There were Genocide Stories from Canada, the Middle East, Europe and Australia – mostly led by the Armenian Youth Federations within the respective regions, there were backyard concerts, petitions and Instagram campaigns to send messages to political leaders, including denier-in-chief Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
There is just too much to link to, but thanks to the Millenials of the Armenian world, literally millions of hours have been consumed and spent commemorating and mobilising for the 105th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
While we all hope our marches and in-person events will continue next year, the COVID-19 version of Armenian advocacy uncovered new methods and audiences that we will never be able to ignore in the fight for justice for the Armenian Genocide.
The 2020 version of Armenian Genocide remembrance also uncovered new leaders. They are young, they are intelligent, they are well-resourced. They are ready.
Shhhh… Don’t tell anyone. But we are now being led by Millennials. And it’s fantastic!
Haig Kayserian is the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Australia, with a Bachelors in Media & Cultural Studies (Macquarie University) and is currently completing his Masters in Politics & Policy (Deakin University). His background is in running technology companies.