Centenary Genocide March, 18 April 2015
As the centenary of the Armenian genocide approaches, many of London’s Armenian communities’ commemorations for the massacre are duly taking place. However in contrast to previous years, where the community’s protest march among other forms of activism have fallen upon deaf ears, there seems to be a world-wide awakening of the “first Genocide of the 20th Century,” as Pope Francis himself labelled it. Among the Pope’s urge to the international community to realise and accept the Genocide, many others have echoed his message.
Regardless of the recent media coverage of the events surrounding the centenary, the Armenian community in London still felt compelled to manifest their feelings towards Erdogan’s government’s constant denial of the Genocide. On 18 April 2015 upwards of 2500 Armenians could be heard through the streets of central London.
During the march we learnt of a protest occurring outside of the Armenian Embassy to the United Kingdom: Azerbaijani people wishing to mar the attention of the Untied Kingdom’s Armenians. However this was to no avail.
We proudly marched through London’s main attractions, including Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square, as the public were increasingly made aware of the cause. Young adults of the Armenian community took the opportunity to distribute fliers and talk to members of the public about the purpose of the march. I was touched to witness a Danish man embrace Yeritasard’s editor sombrely after learning of the plight of the Ottoman Armenians.
The march came to a halt at the Cenotaph where the participants stood silent in commemoration of the 1.5 million who lost their lives. Here we proudly sung our national anthem, reminding the world that we still stand strong and united. The march then resumed until it reached St Pauls Cathedral where words from the clergy were read in support of the Armenian efforts. Interestingly missing from the speech of the Cathedral’s representative was the word ‘Genocide’, which was replaced by ‘massacres’.
Indeed, it seems the Genocide is coming to the forefront of global historical and political discussion. This has not stopped Armenian communities around the world spreading the truth that the world has forgotten.
Hopefully this time the UK heard it.
– Eric Sabonchian
Image credit Marren Farra.