Massachusetts State House Commemoration of Armenian Genocide Takes Place April 20, Armenian Heritage Park Youth Program April 21


BOSTON – Many prominent Massachusetts politicians will join the Armenian community of Boston in commemorating the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on Friday morning, April 20 in the historic State House. The Massachusetts Armenian community is fortunate to have this unique setting for one of the most prominent commemorations of the Genocide in the United States. This year guest speaker Raffi Bedrosyan will give unique insights into the Islamized “hidden” Armenians of Turkey, the living victims of the Genocide, and popular soprano Knarik Nerkararyan will perform several musical pieces. On Saturday, April 21, a special program oriented to the youth will be presented at Armenian Heritage Park.

The twin commemorations are jointly organized for the first time this year, coordinated by the two young and dedicated chairmen, Michael Demirchian and Saro Sakaian, of the Massachusetts Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee. This is an opportunity for Armenians to come together in memory of one of the most important historical tragedies of the twentieth century, the repercussions of which continue to haunt us today.

At the State House, Raffi Bedrosyan will tell the story of the Armenian orphans left behind in Turkish state orphanages, state military schools and Turkish and Kurdish homes, who were forcefully Islamized, Turkified and Kurdified. It will be the story of these orphans, who secretly kept their Armenian roots and passed them on to the next generations despite all pressures for assimilation. It will be the story of the grandchildren of these orphans, who now show the courage after 100 years to openly reveal their original Armenian roots and return to their Armenian identity, language and culture. It will be the story of the triggering events which helped the hidden Armenians come out again, as well as the difficulties and challenges facing them in a harsh environment, surrounded by a hostile state, neighbors, employers and even their own families.

Bedrosyan, a civil engineer, writer and concert pianist living in Toronto, Canada, helped organize the reconstruction of Surp Giragos Church in Diyarbakir/Dikranagerd, the first such reconstruction and return of property project in Turkey, and gave the first Armenian piano concert there since 1915. He is the founder of Project Rebirth, which helps Islamized Armenians return to their original Armenian roots, language and culture.

Nerkararyan is a graduate of the Komitas State Conservatory in Yerevan with a 2008 master’s degree in vocal performance from Azusa Pacific University. She has performed in many operatic roles and also often sings Armenian repertoire.

Massachusetts State Representative David Muradian, who serves on several committees and also is a member of the Knights of Vartan, will serve as the master of ceremonies at the State House. During the ceremony, the nationally important Boston-area English-language Armenian newspapers, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator and the Armenian Weekly, will be honored with certificates for their chief editors, respectively Alin Gregorian and Rupen Janbazian. Armenian clergy, Homenetmen scouts and the children of St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School have roles in the ceremony, as do various Massachusetts politicians. Two recipients of the George Keverian Memorial Scholarship will be announced.

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Prior to the main event at the State House, guests are invited at 9 a.m. to the fourth floor gallery to see an exhibit of Scott Sutherland’s photographs of the metal art of Armenian-American machinist and craftsman Abraham Megerdichian (on display April 17 to 20). They also will be offered a light breakfast. The formal State House commemoration starts at 10:30 a.m. After its conclusion, a light reception will be given, at which there may be prominent surprise guests meeting the audience.

On Saturday, April 21, the youth commemoration at Armenian Heritage Park on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway will begin at 3 p.m. It includes speakers such as Massachusetts House of Representatives member David Muradian and editor of the Armenian Weekly Rupen Janbazian, and musical performances by Armenian-American rapper R-Mean and the Zankagner Performing Arts Ensemble led by founder Hasmik Konjoyan.

Rap artist R-Mean​, of Armenian descent, was born in Los Angeles and raised in Amsterdam. He later moved to California to pursue his passion of music while also obtaining his Doctorate of Pharmacy from Loma Linda University. His powerful song Open Wounds is dedicated to those affected by the Armenian Genocide and sparked the Open Wounds 1915 movement to spread awareness about humanitarian causes through the power of hip-hop music, urban fashion, and social media. Some well-known supporters of Open Wounds include System of a DownCapital CitiesThe Game, and Post Malone.

Complimentary transportation will be provided for both events by the Knights of Vartan Ararat Lodge. Buses will be provided to and from the State House on Friday, April 20. They will be departing in Watertown from the ACEC and St. James Armenian Church, and in Cambridge from Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, at 8:30 a.m. The buses will depart Boston shortly after the reception, around 1:30 p.m.

For the commemoration at the Armenian Heritage Park, buses will be provided from the same locations, departing at 2 p.m., and leaving shortly after 5 pm.

To reserve your spot for either bus please e-mail with all names in your party, preferred location, and the event you’re attending by Monday, April 16th, 2018. For more information, see the group’s Facebook page.

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