Protesters March to Armenian Heritage Park to Join Annual Commemoration
BOSTON, Mass. (A.W.)—Hundreds of activists holding Armenian tricolors, posters, and banners, held a protest in front of the Turkish Consulate in Boston on April 24, demanding reparations for the Armenian Genocide. Organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) “Sardarabad” Gomideh and the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF-YOARF) Greater Boston “Nejdeh” chapter, the protest also addressed Azerbaijan’s recent large-scale military aggression against the peaceful civilian population and armed forces of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh).
Demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Eastern Turkey is Western Armenia,” “Turkey and the United States must recognize the Armenian Genocide,” and “We demand reparations,” during the protest. Activist Shant Maroukhian spoke on behalf of the AYF “Nejdeh” chapter, and called for Turkey to end its policy of denial and to return all occupied Armenian lands with just reparations. He then invited ARF “Sardarabad” Gomideh representative Dikran Khaligian, who addressed the crowd. “Today, we remind the Turkish Consul, the Armenian-American community, and the Turkish-American community that this issue is not going to die; that we will not stop until we have justice for the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Today, Turkey is worried… President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is taking more and more severe actions against the Kurds in his country, against free speech. He is confiscating Armenian churches and other non-Armenian properties—like in Diyarbakir—because he knows his political power is waning,” he said, demanding that the Turkish government acknowledge its history and restore justice through reparations.
Maroukhian then invited Carnie Armenian to speak on behalf of the AYF-YOARF Eastern United States Central Executive. In her address, Armenian stressed that the protest symbolized the unity of the Armenian people, and that the march to the Armenian Heritage Park to follow symbolized the deportation marches genocide survivors were forced to make from their rightful homes in Western Armenia. “In the face of tragedy, our ancestors overcame the odds, and rebirthed this community we have today,” she said, adding that only by acknowledging past genocides, can future ones be prevented. “Let us not forget Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, and at this very moment, Aliyev is determined to take our Artsakh—But we will not let him. We survived then, and we will survive now,” she said.
Protesters then marched from the Turkish Consulate to Boston’s Armenian Heritage Park to join the annual commemoration organized by the Massachusetts Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee, which is comprised of youth from the AYF-YOARF, the Homenetmen Armenian Athletic and Scouting Union, the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA), the Sayat Nova Dance Ensemble, and the Armenian Student Association (ASA). Streets were shut down, as hundreds of demonstrators marched while chanting over the loudspeakers.
After welcoming guests and attendees, Master of Ceremonies of the annual commemoration Ani Zargarian spoke about the continued denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government. “Continued denial will never erase the memories of the atrocities but only further ignite and strengthen our will and efforts to bring about justice,” she said, and called for the unity of the Armenian people against Turkey’s efforts. “Due to the collective efforts and involvement of our current generations, organizations, and supporters, there is no international statute of limitation in the case of genocide. Sorry Turkey….Even after 100 years, these implications and convictions remain. We will not allow for these crimes against humanity to be skirted under such a statute. We will continue to fight for justice no matter how long it takes for recognition,” she said in her opening remarks.
Zargarian then invited Peter J. Koutoujian , the 20th Sheriff of Middlesex County, to address the crowd. In his remarks, Koutoujian spoke about how the Armenian—and greater Boston community—rallied to have a billboard removed, which denied the Armenian Genocide and was put up a few blocks from the Armenian Heritage Park in Boston’s North End by a Turkish group. Zargarian then introduced the next speaker, Director of Scholarship and Innovation at Facing History and Ourselves, Adam Strom, who spoke about the importance of acknowledging and recognizing past atrocities to prevent future crimes against humanity.
Boston-Armenian youth Anna Margaryan, Amalia Petrosyan, Naneh Petrosyan, Adelaida Balagyozyan, and Meghri DerVartanian then recited the poem “Zarmanali Hye” by famed Armenian writer Gevork Emin, after which Dr. Suzanne Moranian, an award-winning published historian, educator, and internationally-recognized expert on the Armenian Genocide, spoke to the crowd about the importance of remembering the past and Armenian-Americans’ continued dedication to the Armenian cause and community.
Zarganian then invited 8-year-old Alla Petrosyan and 12-year-old Ani Belorian of the Zangakner Performing Arts Ensemble, who sang “Hayastan” and “Getashen,” respectively. The event’s fourth and final speaker was Shant Mardirossian, chairman emeritus and member of the board of the Near East Foundation (NEF) based in Syracuse, New York, who spoke about the work the foundation did at the time of the genocide, and how the Armenian Genocide is still relevant over a century after the crime.
The Boston-based Sayat Nova Dance Company performed “Tonakan Hayastan” (Festive Armenia) a three-part medley choreographed by Apo Ashjian.
In her closing remarks, Zargarian challenged the crowd to recommit to the Armenian cause. “Instead of commemorating this anniversary next year let’s celebrate the recognition of this genocide by its perpetrators. Yes, we have come a long way on many fronts, of creating awareness of our cause, garnering support from allies and building vibrant communities but we have much more work to do and a long road ahead,” she said. Zargarian then thanked sponsoring organizations and concluded with “Ketseh Hayastan, ketseh Artsakh!” (Long live Armenia and Artsakh).
Participants were then encouraged to stay in the park, to mingle with community members and friends, and to enjoy traditional Armenian music by Brian Ansbigian on the oud, David Ansbigian on guitar, and Bob Raphalian on Violin.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West