LONDON — On June 26, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) of London organized an evening of Armenian culture titled Living Memory in honor of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide and the rebirth of the Armenian nation at the Chelsea Old Town Hall in London.
The first part of the evening included an exhibition comprised of both paintings and sculptures titled The Memory Is Still Alive, dedicated to the work of artist Nairi Afrikyan. The second part of the evening began with a speech by Assadour Guzelian, who welcomed the audience and read the letter he received from the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to his open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu about recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The letter confirmed that the British government had not changed its position: “Powerful governments like the United States and Great Britain can bury justice, but they should always remember that truth has never had a grave in history. One cannot bury the truth.”
Guzelian was followed by Ara Sarafian, the founder and director of the Gomidas Institute and a historian specializing in late Ottoman and modern Armenian history. Sarafian delivered a lecture titled “Let Us Remember the Armenians Living in Turkey Today,” in which he referred to his meetings with Turkish and Kurdish intellectuals, representatives of various organizations, public figures and ordinary citizens in different provinces in Turkey. He said that the political climate has improved considerably in present-day Turkey; many issues that were considered taboo and could not be publically voiced, including the Armenian Genocide, can now be openly discussed. As a result, many hidden Islamized Armenians are returning to their roots. “For the pursuit and peaceful solution to the Armenian question, we must ensure the cooperation of Turkish and Kurdish intellectuals, public figures and organizations,” said Sarafian.
Baroness Caroline Cox then gave a presentation titled “The Spirit of Armenia: Beauty from the Ashes of Destruction” in which she spoke about the atrocities perpetrated by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabagh and told stories from her 82 visits to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh. She ended her speech with the English translation of a poem written by Gegham, a 10-year-old Armenian boy from Nagorno-Karabagh: “I subsequently met Gegham as an adult. He had returned to his village as a teacher. What commitment. What an inspiration!” said Cox.
After a reception, the artistic program began with a series of concerts, dance performances and poetry readings. The evening concluded with remarks by the artistic director of the program, dancer and choreographer Shake Major-Chilingirian, who invited the audience to join a circle dance symbolizing unity and everlasting life.