For the second time since our rebirth in 2008, London’s «Խանասոր» (Khanasor) chapter of the AYF has been privileged to have in its presence the ARF Bureau member and head of «Հայ Դատ» (“Hay Tad”) activities, Hagop Der Khatchadurian. During a very brief stay in London he spoke to the community, on Saturday April 28th, on the topics pertaining to the Armenian Genocide and its recognition.
After a minute’s silence in respect for our ancestors who suffered at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, Sevan Artin provided the introduction. Our guest then took the podium at west London’s Navasartian Centre and proceeded to discuss our current progress in worldwide recognition of the Genocide.
We were informed on Turkey’s increasing denial-promoting and history-covering activities. It was no news to us that the Turkish government spends an incredible amount of money on preaching lies, lobbying against us and falsifying history. All this from a country that until recently had a very strong desire to become an EU member state. The oppression they subject their minorities to; their continued human rights violations, their aggressive denial of historical truth – to name just a few – make this aspiration laughable. Which is why they’re now looking to the East. What was news to us, however, is that Turkey is now mobilising its diaspora. They are also reaching out to those with whom they share a goal, and that goal is to silence us: naturally they’re looking to Azerbaijan. They are very much learning from our methods which is a worrying prospect, and stands as yet another reason why we can only become smarter and increase our work.
The information was detailed and interesting, delivered in English and Armenian, but the lengthier part of the evening was the Q&A session. First in with a question was our own Vahe Boghosian. He asked our speaker what his response would be to the argument that the Armenian Genocide denial bill in France represses freedom of speech. Our friend responded with the succinct answer that it is not a question of freedom of speech, but rather a question of human justice.
A question came later regarding the small, but ever-growing, group of Turkish citizens who are becoming quite vocal about the injustices committed against Armenians by the Ottoman Turks. Could we become beneficial to these people? This interesting question brought a more extensive answer. We were told that this is a new movement that cannot be ignored as it is firstly a brave one, but secondly because it has at its centre the very people who make up modern-day Turkey. We were also told it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume some of those people are “Turkified” Armenians who have recently discovered their true roots. In any case this movement must be harnessed and be encouraged to spread.
Before the evening drew to a close he laid to rest the worry many have that “once a century has passed, the Genocide can no longer be recognised”. This concept is completely untrue. No law or form of prohibition exists that denies any further possibility of Genocide recognition after the 100-year mark. It does indeed have a negative psychological impact: passing this milestone anniversary will push the Genocide into the realm of “ancient history” in people’s minds, but it is a trap that we ourselves absolutely must not fall into. In the words of our speaker that evening, «Պայքար յանուն յիշողութեան: Պայքար յանուն ճանաչման». Our struggle does not end with anything but worldwide recognition of the fact, and due reparations. Nobody can stand in the way of our right, and our duty, to honour those we lost in what is arguably one of the darkest chapters of human history.
The one-hundredth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is not a “finish line” for us. It is, in the words of our honoured comrade, an opportunity – an opportunity to strike. To strike with clout, intelligence, coordination and, critically, the utmost unity.
— Heros Jojaghaian
Photo: Andre Asaturyan
See all the pictures here.