Genocide commemoration ceremony

Washington Virtually and Symbolically Commemorates the Armenian Genocide amid COVID-19

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amid coronavirus and rainy weather the staff of the Armenian Embassy and Artsakh’s permanent representation, together with a number of community members, laid a wreath at the khachkar in the yard of the Embassy on April 24. Earlier that day, the Armenian Youth Federation arranged a small gathering at Sheridan Circle of Washington, DC, in front of the Turkish ambassador’s residence. The coronavirus forced a rearrangement but not cancellation of the commemorations. Both in Armenia and the Diaspora the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was marked by virtual means and symbolic physical gatherings.

Ambassador Varuzhan Nersesyan in his statement cited the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by both chambers of the US Congress in 2019, declaring: “The recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not merely a moral issue but one which has direct security implications for Armenian people, especially in the context of global geopolitical challenges.”

The pastors of both Armenian churches of the greater Washington area performed the liturgy at the khachkar remembering the victims of the Genocide.

“I applaud Ambassador Varuzhan Nersesyan for initiating and conducting this ceremony on the Armenian soil and his approval of the Greater Washington Armenian group’s fundraising efforts to donate 10,500 meals to the Capitol Area Food Bank, in memory of the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide martyrs,” Kevork Marashlian, chairman of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party Eastern District Committee stated, referring to the ongoing community effort to donate meals to American citizens who lack food in the days of the pandemic virus. The embassy announced its endorsement of the solicitation of food by the American-Armenian community. The donation of over 3 million meals across the country is a symbolic payback for the assistance that the American government and people rendered to the Armenians during the days of Genocide.

Bryan Ardouny of the Armenian Assembly of America and Aram Hamparian of the Armenian National Committee, the directors of key Armenian organizations based in Washington, D.C., published virtual messages commemorating the anniversary. So did many members of Congress, with some publishing video messages and others using twitter or other platforms.

“The facts are undeniable. Yet, generations of Armenians have had to fight tirelessly against those who attempted to rewrite history and deny the truth of the Armenian Genocide,” Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said in her commemorative statement.

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Representatives Alan Rowental (D-CA ), Abigail Spangerber (D-VA), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Will Hurd (R-TX) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ed Markey (D-MA), and many more are among the 70 legislators who joined in solidarity with Armenian community.

The expected statement from the White House once again used the expected term Meds Yeghern in reference to the 1915 events.  This “know-how” of the Obama administration puts the White House in a somewhat strange situation, as the term is equal to Genocide in the Armenian language. However, it is deliberately used in avoidance of the latter term.

The former vice president of the US, who is running for the presidency this year, was more explicit in his Medium post. “Today we remember the atrocities faced by the Armenian people in the Metz Yeghern — the Armenian Genocide.”, Joe Biden stated. Biden recalled also the killings of Assyrians, Chaldeans, Greeks and other targeted Christian groups, vowing that if elected, he will fully “support a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and will make universal human rights a top priority for my administration.”

Biden referred to his support of the Armenian Resolution during his tenure at the US Senate. However, he did not detail why Obama’s administration avoided direct recognition. Biden could have also mentioned that in 2015 he was present at the Armenian Genocide commemoration at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. The forget-me-not pin symbolizing the Armenian Genocide centennial was clipped to Biden’s suit during that event.

The video clip below presents the commemoration event at the khachkar of the Embassy of Armenia in Washington and commemorative video statements of American legislators.

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