A DAY UNLIKE OTHERS: THE 24 APRIL 2015 IN LONDON
The centenary commemorations of the Armenian Genocide organised by AGCCC mobilized the entire Armenian community in the UK. Dozens of high profile political speeches, lively debates, film projections, a theatre production, numerous concerts, both classical and totally opposite: the awesome rock band System of a Down concert at Wembley Arena, where do we stop?
By Hasmik Harutunyan
For the first time in Britain, hunger strike was organised in protest of Britain’s refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide and the continuous support of the British government for Turkey’s anti-Armenian position. From 20th to the 24th of April 2015, hundred-hour hunger strike took place in front of the 10 Downing Street, on Whitehall. Our brave compatriot was not a youngster, as expected, but a middle-aged man, husband and father of three, who stoically remained in his tiny folding chair day and night, surrounded by the security forces, protecting, as usual, the government offices. Mr. Bagrat Nazarian, single-handedly attracted more media and political attention than many other events: after all, hunger strike is a serious issue for the authorities, especially if it is opposite the government offices at Number 10 Downing Street. While Bagrat was sitting in his chair opposite the Prime Minister’s office, Armenian community members came to support him for over four days and nights.
So, Friday the 24th of April started with the special service at St. Yegishe Church, in central London, among the guests: the Armenian Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Dr. Armen Sarkissian, foreign dignitaries, British politicians, members of the Armenian community.
After the Divine Liturgy, the public was encouraged to make their way to the Turkish Embassy, where AYF (Armenian Youth Federation) had organised vigil in front of the Turkish Embassy from 13.30 to 18.30. Hundreds of Armenians took part in the afternoon vigil, under the observing eyes of security officers. At 5pm, the crowds thickened and the singing and chanting got louder and stronger.
On behalf of the AGCCC, Dr. Garen Arevian spoke about the significance of the centenary commemoration of the Genocide for the Armenian Community in Great Britain and worldwide. He spoke about the past and upcoming events organised by AGCCC and invited everyone to attend the evening concert.
Emin Moskofian, a young member of AYF, gave a well-informed speech about the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by many progressive countries, including Germany and Austria, and earlier this month by European Parliament. The speaker thanked the British outstanding politicians like Baroness Cox, MEP Charles Tannock and MP Steven Pound four their support of the Armenian cause, but acknowledged that there was still a lot of work to be done until the British Government recognized the Armenian Genocide.
On behalf of the AYF, Hagop Krikoryan gave a speech, reminding why Armenians were here – to remember those 1.5 million people killed by the Turkish forces, and to protest and to demand Justice for those victims,
“History cannot be rewritten, Turkey continues to dishonour their memory by their denial of the atrocities committed 100 years ago” said Hagop Krikorian. He added that the Armenian community was here to confirm that Turkey had failed its plans to destroy a whole nation and that Armenians are thriving everywhere around the world today.
“We will protest until Erdogan and his premiership recognize the atrocities committed against Armenian nation and justice is done to those 1.5 million victims”.
Father Aren from St Yegishe Armenian Church thanked everyone present and asked to mark the demonstration with two-minute silence, followed by Armenian national hymn.
In 1914 about two million Armenians lived in the territory of Western Armenia, occupied by the Ottoman Empire; ¾ of that population was wiped out of existence within few months in 1915. On the 24th of April 2015, in London, the descendents of those few survivors demonstrated to express their anger and frustration via this democratic and peaceful protest – elderly, middle-aged and young Armenians from France, Germany, Britain, Lebanon, Syria, Poland, Greece, Egypt, Iraq, Iran and Armenia, unified and strong again, standing shoulder to shoulder to remember and to demand JUSTICE FOR THOSE 1.5 MILLION INNOCENT CITIZENS TORTURED, BURNT, HUMILIATED AND STARVED TO DEATH BY THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT IN 1915.
The recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as the recognition of the Holocaust, is the ONLY way for healing this nation’s wounds and memory.