Annual Genocide Commemoration March

As we arrived outside John Lewis off Oxford Circus, an array of Armenian flags were proudly on show as preparations for the start of the annual Armenian Genocide memorial and recognition march began. The weather was atypically pleasant for a Spring London day: a hopeful sign for a successful march. With placards, flags and leaflets in hand, and spirits high, we set off behind the orderly scouts of Homenetmen London to the beating rhythm of the drums.

An amalgamation of anticipation and enthusiasm filled the air. The Kaylarshav went through the demarcated route in central London, tactically through busy places such as Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square as leaflets were disseminated to the spectating bystanders.

What was noticeable this year was the great and encouraging multicultural aspect of the march with not only Armenians, but also Cypriots, Iranians and Japanese amongst many others. Such variety and support highlighted that the issue is not just confined to Armenians, but is an outcry of a crime against humanity, which thus deserves protest from all.

Later on, once the Bishop saw fit to bestow his presence (at the Cenotaph – the ending location of the fugacious march) there was a brief prayer and singing of Mer Hayrenik in a surprisingly sombre mood.

However, one cannot help but feel that this year’s event was overall conducted in a more solemn mood. The lack of vociferous chants during the march, and the lack of gusto in singing the national anthem were noticeable. Fallout from the event amongst the crowd on the day and on social networking sites voiced concerns over this, with the consensus being that a more active and strident demonstration would be more fitting in coming years.

Nonetheless, the march was successful in arousing feelings of national identity and spreading the knowledge of the injustice of 1915, albeit in a very brief amount of time. The sunshine added a nice touch to the march, one where all were determined to protest. Let us hope that the 100th anniversary in two years’ time has larger and more unified marches to rightfully remember the lost and demonstrate against the denial.

— Raphael Gregorian

Photos: Raffi Youredjian

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