Genocide Commemoration March

The Armenian Genocide. This mass killing by the Ottoman Turkish state of Armenians living in what is modern-day Turkey 97 years ago has become one of the most successfully denied genocides of the modern era. Many years of effort and millions of dollars have gone into the cause of denial by Turkey. That may be expected. What is not is the number of countries around the world who willingly take part in this charade and place state relations above human rights, one of whom is our very own United Kingdom.

Every year, large numbers of British Armenians gather in central London to stage a demonstration against the government’s wilful collusion with Turkey to block recognition. As the only EU member state to be openly promoting Turkey’s accession, the UK has an unusually strong interest in keeping the status quo with regards to Armenians.

On 21st April 2012, the Armenian community once again gathered together in London and marched along Oxford Street, Regent Street and down to Whitehall and the Cenotaph, placards raised and handing out informative leaflets to the passing public along the way.

Joining together representatives from all of the major Armenian organisations and British Armenians from around the UK, the demonstration was led by the Homenetmen Scouts. At the Cenotaph, wreaths were laid on behalf of the Armenian Community and Church Council of Great Britain, The Armenian Primacy of Great Britain and the Armenian Embassy and His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovanessian carried out a small service of remembrance. The event passed off peacefully, testament to the calm demeanour of the participants, the co-ordination of the police and lack of the belligerent pawns of the Turkish state that have appeared at previous demonstrations.

Against all the odds of carrying out a major demonstration during a Jubilee and Olympic year, British Armenians have been able to show the government that nothing can make us forget both the pain of 1915, and what is arguably the much deeper pain of 97 years of denial and retribution that successive Armenian generations have endured.

As we gear up to the 100th anniversary of the Genocide in 2015 – an election year – we must make sure that our voice gets louder, our determination stronger and our message clearer: denial of deliberate state-sanctioned killings based on ethnicity has no place in the 21st century in any country, let alone one that prides itself on upholding human rights much farther than its own borders.

Justice always prevails for the righteous. Let’s make sure that it happens before someone else looks to our plight as the perfect justification to carry out something similar in the knowledge that a dangerous mix of apathy and bordering-on-criminal proactive denial from the leading countries of the world will provide cover and safety.

— Ruben Arakelyan

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