The prayer service at the Yale commemoration

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale Armenian Network (YAN) held an outdoor candlelight vigil on the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on Monday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. outside Sterling Memorial Library at Yale.

Each year on the date considered to be the beginning of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, YAN conducts a commemoration ceremony to honor the memory of the one and a half million victims of the Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman government as well as to remember the survivors.

YAN is a student led association that fosters and promotes Armenian culture and heritage to the Yale community. Its mission is to connect all Armenians at Yale in friendship and support. YAN aims to foster awareness of the culture of Armenia and the issues faced by Armenians today.

Mariam Alaverdian and Pateel Jivalagian, co-presidents of YAN jointly organized the commemoration. Alaverdian is a graduating senior at Yale College pursuing a BS in applied mathematics and Jivalagian is a graduating master’s student at the Yale School of Public Health. The event was made possible with the help of the YAN Genocide Commemoration Committee. Alaverdian and Jivalagian stated “As descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors, we recognize our duty to arrange a commemorative event for the Yale community in honor of the 1.5 million lives tragically lost and to acknowledge the lasting trauma endured by numerous survivors. Our objective for this event was not only to pay tribute to those affected but also to educate the public by sharing the personal stories of our members and shedding light on the atrocities committed against our nation.”

Members of the clergy, alumni, students and faculty at the protest

The Rev. Archpriest Untzag Nalbandian, pastor of the Armenian Church of the Holy Ascension in Trumbull started off the commemoration with a prayer service. Kit Kaolian of Milford, a subdeacon at Armenian Church of the Holy Ascension assisted in the service. Before his prayer service Nalbandian addressed the students saying “I appreciate that you, the Armenian students at Yale University organized this important event to remember our victims and also to educate others about the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Unfortunately, 108 years later we see how Armenian Artsakh is under blockade by the Azeri Government and the 120,000 Armenians living there cannot even go to Armenia, let alone any part of the world. And this is happening today in front of the eyes of the civilized world. We must raise our voice to prevent future Genocides.”

A current blockade of the Lachin corridor, Artsakh’s only link to Armenia, began on December 11, 2022, threatening the very existence of those ethnic Armenians who are thus unable to access, water, food, medicine and fuel.

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A number of members of YAN commented on the meaning of the Genocide and the obligation never to forget through musical and poetic renditions as well as by heartfelt comments of remembrance.

Harry and Janice Mazadoorian of Kensington also attended the event. He is an alumnus of Yale College and Yale Law school. They stated that they were moved to hear the penetrating comments of so many of the young people in attendance and enormously proud of their efforts to maintain the resilience of the Armenian spirit.

The April 24 gathering at Yale

Dr. David J. Simon, Assistant Dean for Graduate Education at Yale’s Jackson School of Global Affairs and Director, Yale Genocide Studies Program also attended the event. He stated “For me, attending the event was a moving reminder of why commemoration matters. The Yale Armenian community expressed grief in the pain and loss endured by their ancestors, lamented the long legacy of pain and sorrow that later generations feel, and demonstrated the resilience of Armenians in the world today. The last point is especially poignant, given that genocide is essentially an effort to wipe out not just a large collection of individuals but the group to which they belong and the identity to which they subscribe. A moving expression of community such as last night’s event is a powerful way to show that for all of the pain it caused, those genocidal efforts ultimately failed to attain the worst of their goals.”

Dr. Gregory Nikogosyan, Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry Fellow at the School of Medicine, stated that “The Armenian Genocide commemoration is our continued pledge to never forget the atrocities that occurred 108 years ago. To this day, the Armenian Genocide is not recognized by the Republic of Turkey. Not holding others accountable for crimes against humanity has consequences. We should reflect that today Armenians are continuing to face atrocities and denial of the right to life in their indigenous lands of Artsakh. Today, here at Yale, we do not forget.”

Karen Agaronyan, Post-doctoral Associate at Yale University/Howard Hughes Medical Institute observed “As I was growing up, I often pondered why Armenians faced so much hatred and denied their right to exist leading to genocide. Although I do not have a definitive answer to this question, I strongly believe that it’s crucial to remember our past. Ignorance towards history can lead to the perpetuation of terrible atrocities, while knowledge and memory can help prevent such tragedies from happening again.”


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