A panorama of the Armenian Heritage Park audience (photo Ken Martin)

Boston Commemorates 107th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide: Video Included

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BOSTON — While the concept of genocide is being constantly debated in international news due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, the Boston community commemorated the 107th anniversary of the commencement of the Armenian Genocide on April 23 in Armenian Heritage Park. Covid-19 restrictions prevented the use of the customary setting of the Massachusetts Statehouse, now closed to all public events.

Massachusetts State Rep. David Muradian speaking (photo Ken Martin)

Notwithstanding the issues connected to the pandemic, Armenians and their friends filled the circular maze construction of Armenian Heritage Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway and surrounded the Armenian Genocide memorial sculpture there early in the evening. The ceremonies were opened by State Representatives David K. Muradian, Jr. and Kate Lipper-Garabedian. An honor guard of the Homenetmen Armenian Scouts carrying the flags of the United States, the state of Massachusetts, the Republic of Armenia, and the Artsakh Republic marched to the stage. Stirring renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner and Mer Hairenik [Our Fatherland], the respective American and Armenian national anthems, were performed by vocalist Sevan Dulgarian. The Armenian clergy of Greater Boston said prayers and blessed the event and memory of the lost ancestors of the majority of the audience, all having been granted sainthood by the Armenian Church during the 2015 centenary of the Armenian Genocide.

From left, Massachusetts State Representatives Steven C. Owens of Watertown, Kate Lipper-Garabedian, and David Muradian (photo Ken Martin)

Among the prominent guests in the audience were Ambassador Meron Reuben, the Consul General of Israel to New England, Massachusetts State Rep. Steven C. Owens of Watertown, and entrepreneur and philanthropist Noubar Afeyan.

Amb. Meron Reuben, the Consul General of Israel to New England (photo Ken Martin)

Justin Bilton, an English teacher who created a successful Genocide Studies course at Essex North Shore and Technical High School, reported about the need for education on all cases of genocide. He spoke about how his students have reacted in positive ways to learning  about genocides even though many are focused on agricultural and technical learning.

Vocalist Sevan Dulgarian (photo Ken Martin)

Sam Sjostedt was introduced by Lipper-Garabedian for a musical interlude with the duduk. It held the audience spellbound with its subdued power and seemed to reduce the constant grinding sound of vehicular traffic nearby to a background murmur.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Noubar Afeyan in the audience (photo Ken Martin)

Lipper-Garabedian and Muradian presented and read Governor Charles Baker’s proclamation on the occasion of the 107th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide followed by keynote speaker Dr. Henry Theriault, chair of the Philosophy Department at Worcester State University and coordinator of the university’s Center for the Study of Human Rights.

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Prof. Theriault’s revealing and powerful presentation laid plain that the genocide of Armenians was continuing today, unlike the situation in Germany after World War II. There, with the trials and punishment of the perpetrators of the Holocaust, responsibilities were accepted and reparations made. Turkey, however, remains unrepentant for its crime of planned genocide and allows itself to continue killing Armenians in the Artsakh Republic and other areas of the world where Armenians reside. Theriault said this should make Armenians (and others) shudder.

Prof. Henry Theriault (photo Ken Martin)

He added that for all practical purposes, Azerbaijan had become Turkey’s 83rd province, with its military taken over by Turkey and guided during the Karabakh War of 2020. The joint actions of both countries led to killings of young Armenian soldiers and civilians and the occupation of much territory inhabited by Armenians. It seemingly leads to a continuation of the same policy of genocide, including the erasure of the Armenian people with their culture and history. Theriault said this is proof that Turkey has not rehabilitated itself and thinks it can continue the Genocide with impunity.

The Armenian government is being pressured by Turkey to eliminate any reference to the Armenian Genocide in exchange for better economic and political relations with Turkey and peace in the region. However, Theriault said, salvation for Armenia and Artsakh relies on continued demands for Genocide recognition and reparations by Turkey. Only the Armenian diaspora can achieve this through education and pursuing genocide recognition around the world. He added that it must support actions such as creation of the Armenian Genocide Education Act just submitted to the US Congress for approval. Education about the Armenian Genocide must be provided to the Turkish people as well, who have been manipulated by genocide supporters in their government since its founding by many of the planners of the Armenian Genocide.

From left, Justin Bilton, State Rep. David Muradian, State Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian, Anais Astarjian, Henry Theriault, and Herman Purutyan (Astarjian and Purutyan were co-chairs of this year’s organizing committee) (photo Ken Martin)

Closing remarks by Lipper-Garabedian and Muradian and Armenian music by DJ Rams concluded the evening, with members of the audience lingering to discuss the event and socialize.

The Armenian Youth Federation Greater Boston Nejdeh Chapter (Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation) organized a protest on the afternoon of Friday, April 22, marching from Armenian Heritage Park through crowded parts of the city and ending at the Turkish Consulate General on James Avenue.

A protestor at the Turkish Consulate General (photo Ken Martin)

 

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