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Massachusetts State House honors Armenian Genocide survivors

Massachusetts State House honors Armenian Genocide survivors

PanARMENIAN.Net - Martyrs and survivors of the Armenian Genocide were honored under the golden dome of the Massachusetts State House last week during the 104th annual commemoration of the 1915 events, The Armenian Weekly reports.

“We are here to remember,” said State Senator William Brownsberger. For the past 34 years, in the days leading up to April 24, state and local elected officials invite Armenians and human rights advocates to the Massachusetts State House for this annual ceremony, designed to highlight the Armenian heritage and stress the importance of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The event was held only a few days after the Commonwealth’s commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide.

As State Representative David Muradian explained, many of his colleagues in that chamber have an “R” or a “D” after their names. “Truthfully,” he said, “they should have an ‘A’ for Armenian,” alluding that crimes against humanity, including the Armenian Genocide and the genocides that followed, should not be considered partisan issues.

Scouts from Homenetmen’s Boston chapter stood proudly in the Hall of Representatives, each holding American and Armenian flags on either side of the stately wood podium. Students from Watertown’s St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School led guests in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and the Armenian national anthem—a rather emotional example of the dual identity of the Armenian Diaspora.

Resting peacefully in a wheelchair a few feet from the children was 109 year-old Armenian Genocide survivor, “Starry” Asdghik Alemian of Weymouth, Mass. As a great-great grandmother, Alemian and her descendants were described by State Representative Jonathan Hecht as a “living testimony of the indomitable spirit of the Armenian people.” Hecht presented Alemian with the governor’s proclamation of the Armenian Genocide from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Armenians commemorate the mass killings on April 24 because on that date in 1915 a group of Armenian intellectuals was rounded up and assassinated in Constantinople by the Ottoman government. On April 24, Armenians worldwide will be commemorating the 104th anniversary of the Genocide which continued until 1923. Some three dozen countries, hundreds of local government bodies and international organizations have so far recognized the killings of 1.5 million Armenians as Genocide. Turkey denies to this day.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres and deportations, involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, Italy, 45 U.S. states, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Argentina, Belgium, Austria, Wales, Switzerland, Canada, Poland, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, the Vatican, Luxembourg, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Sweden, Venezuela, Slovakia, Syria, Vatican, as well as the European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

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