By Gabriella Gage
WATERTOWN — On Sunday, April 21, the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) hosted a joint commemoration to remember the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the 38th anniversary of the Cambodian Genocide and 10 years since the beginning of the ongoing genocide in Darfur.
More than 60 people attended the program, which began with opening remarks from the chairman of ALMA’s Board of Trustees, Haig Der Manuelian, followed by a benediction by Rev. Aram Stepanian of Soorp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church. Event chair and president of the Armenian Heritage Foundation, James Kalustian, served as moderator for the event.
Cambodian Genocide survivor, Kowith Kret, the first of the guest speakers, shared his own story of surviving the Khmer Rouge era atrocities (1975-1979.) He described his experience as a young man, marching with his entire family of 11 children — including a 28-day-old brother — under threat of violence by the Khmer Rouge soldiers. Before his father was taken away from the march to be executed, he took young Kret aside and said, “You are the oldest son. You take good care of your mother and your 10 siblings. Don’t give up hope.”
Kret, a community activist and the visionary behind the ALMA exhibit, “More than a Number,” also offered a historical perspective of the Cambodian Genocide, along with his personal story of survivor. While playing a recording of John Lennon’s Imagine in the background, Kret said, “We are the survivors. We cherish every moment in life. We have an obligation to make sure such manmade catastrophes do not happen again.”