EDITORIAL: UCL and SOAS Armenian Societies Host Robert Fisk

The year 2015 brought with it the 100 year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The month of April was saturated with events of commemoration as well as protesting for the recognition of the ethnic cleansing that has left a black hole in the history of the Armenian people. The centenary evoked emotions in Armenians all over the world, and social media was brimming with various movements and events taking place globally. Between comments from the Pope, George Clooney’s ‘100 Lives’ movement, the Wake Up the Souls tour by rock band System of a Down, the Kardashian clan’s infamous trip to Armenia which ended with Kanye West in Yerevan’s Swan Lake, as well as various documentaries and reports by the media, it is safe to say that the global Armenian community successfully made some noise on an issue very close to our hearts.

But what next?

This was the exact topic addressed by the Independent’s correspondent to the Middle East, Dr. Robert Fisk, in a lecture organised by the UCL and SOAS Armenian Societies under the auspices of the Armenian Genocide Centenary Commemoration Committee of the UK.

Based in Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Fisk has written at length about the Armenian cause. In this enthralling talk, Dr. Fisk fully engaged the 200-strong audience by speaking of his numerous experiences in the Middle East. He drew important comparisons between the Ottoman massacres of the Armenians and the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. He also delved into the occupation of extreme Islamist group ISIS’ in Iraq and Syria, and its implications on the memory of the Armenians who were massacred during the First World War.

When speaking of his own experiences in the Middle East, Fisk revealed a strip of a wall-hanging from a church that had been attacked by ISIS, thereby drawing comparisons between the fate of the Armenians and the continued persecution of Christians in the Middle East today. The passion and fervour with which Fisk spoke touched and inspired those present, and the energy in the lecture theatre was live as members of the audience were revitalised by his fresh outlook and intense emotion regarding the centenary.

April 24th 2015 has come and gone. This was the solitary day which marked the passing of a century since the initiation of the massacre of one and a half million Armenians by the Ottoman leaders. This single historic event has had unspeakable implications on the development of one of the oldest peoples to walk the earth. For 100 years, the Turkish government has succeeded in denying the systematic targeted slaughter of our ancestors. For a century, the souls of one and a half million people have not been able to rest.

But what next?

With the help of the intellectuals such as Dr. Fisk, we must demand recognition from Turkey, as well as major world players such as the USA and the UK, who continue to deny the occurrence of an event so prominent in our history. We must demand justice for the crimes inflicted upon our ancestors and our nation.

— Ike Stepanian

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