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Ambassador Yeganian's Speech on the Parliament Hill in Ottawa during the commemoration event of the 102nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

24.04.2017

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Excellences,
Your Eminences,
Members of the Clergy,
Members of Parliament,
Distinguished representatives of diplomatic corps,
Esteemed Guests,
My fellow compatriots from Armenian Communities across Canada,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we commemorate the memory of the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. 102 years have passed since the Meds Yeghern. What has changed? First of all, we have changed. We have revived as a nation and as a state. We have proved to ourselves, and to the world, that Turkey failed in its genocidal plans. But our struggle for justice still goes on. What has not changed? The policy of denialism by the Turkish state has not changed, neither has its hostile attitude toward everything Armenian. But despite the setbacks there is always hope. Today civil society in Turkey knows more about its history than it knew yesterday; tomorrow, it will know even more than it knows today, as long as media is not oppressed, parliamentarians, public figures and editors are not murdered or detained. Slowly but surely people are able to open up their eyes and see the truth, that their government is trying so hard to supress.

The world is changing and we are all more connected than ever before. Today it is difficult to imagine a security challenge that threatens only one nation. None of us can consider ourselves immune to the horrors that the Armenian people suffered in the early 20th century. A genocide committed in any corner of the world should be viewed as a failure for the international community as a whole, as genocide prevention is the duty of every single one of us, individually and collectively. This is why the Armenian Community have gathered here today. Those who survived genocide and their descendants shall be continuously looking to the international community for justice.

Dear Compatriots,

This year, in May, the second Aurora Prize will be awarded in Yerevan, Armenia. On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and in gratitude to their saviors, an Aurora Prize laureate will be honored each year between 2015 and 2023 with a $100,000 grant, and the opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by nominating organizations that inspired their work for a $1,000,000 award. Recipients will be recognized for the exceptional impact of their actions on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes. Last year the first Aurora prize was awarded to Marguerite Barankitse from Burundi. Co-Founders of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan announced the names of the five Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity 2017 finalists in Yerevan today. They have been selected by the Selection Committee for their exceptional impact, courage and commitment to preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes. The Aurora Prize Selection Committee includes Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former foreign minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian; and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney. Aurora Prize finalists are: Fartuun Adan and Ms. Ilwad Elman from Somalia, Jamila Afghani from Afghanistan, Muhammad Darwish from Syria, Denis Mukwege from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tom Catena from Sudan.

Additionally, the Third Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide will take place in Yerevan next year. It will bring together representatives of governments, parliaments, major international and human rights organizations, acclaimed experts of international law, representatives of the media, and many others. I am very proud that my capital, Yerevan, is rapidly becoming an international center of Human Rights and Genocide Studies.

My country and people, who were through the terrible tragedy, know full well the need for tolerance, and that is why we create every condition in the Republic of Armenia for ethnic minorities. Greeks, Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Jews, Yezidis all live in peaceful coexistence with their rights fully protected. Traveling through the towns and villages of Armenia, one can see not only magnificent Armenian Churches but also the beautiful Shia Blue Mosque in downtown Yerevan, Orthodox Churches, Jewish Synagogue and soon, the largest Yezidi temple in the world.

Around the world, conscience and probity are withstanding the cruel, but retreating machine of the Armenian Genocide denial. Conscience and probity are the antipodes of denial. Recognition of the Genocide is not the world’s tribute to the Armenian people and our martyrs. Recognition of the Genocide is the triumph of human conscience and justice over intolerance and hatred!

My fellow compatriots,

A hundred and two years have passed since it all began in 1915, “one hundred plus two years”. These were not only years of loss, pain, resistance and revival for the Armenian people, but, unfortunately, also years of continued denial. “One and a half million plus one” - this was the motto which led tens of thousands of people to the streets to protest the assassination of Hrant Dink, a modern victim of the environment of hate. Out in the streets there were Armenian and Turkish people alike, as an increasing number of Turkish people raise their voice in an attempt to break the chains of hatred and denial, that their government attempts to force upon them. It is the right of all people, including the Turkish people, to know the truth, which has been distorted for so long. This year marks 10 years since the assassination of Hrant. He will always be in our hearts and minds.

Dear friends,

It is also very unfortunate that Turkish officials and diplomats do not follow basic protocol and etiquette, nor do they show any sensitivity towards our tragedy. I still wonder what prompted the Turkish Ambassador to select April 24th as a day of celebration of Turkish culture in the Horticulture Building as a part of the Canada 150 celebrations? We all take part in these celebrations and, to be clear, we congratulate Canada on its 150th Anniversary. But to place Turkish flag in the calendar of events on April 24th?! No, this is a clear provocation! Thank God Canada is a country with strong moral values, and we succeeded in showing Minister Joly and City authorities the importance of this day. As a result of this diligent work and by unanimous decision of the City’s board, the Turkish flag has been removed from April 24th as today is Armenian Genocide Memorial Day!

Dear friends,

On behalf of Armenian Government I’d like to express my gratitude to the Government of Canada and Canadian people. The sincere attitude of Canada towards the Armenian people was displayed through the number of resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide, an approach, which was reaffirmed in 2015. In doing so, Canada emphasized its commitment to stand against injustice and crimes against humanity and demonstrated its commitment to ensure such crimes perpetrated against mankind will always be condemned. As Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his statement for the 102nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide: “On this occasion, Canadians – regardless of faith or ethnic background – stand together in solemn remembrance and reaffirmed dedication to ensuring that we never stand indifferently in the face of hate or violence in any form.” Canada’s initiative to declare the month of April as Genocide Remembrance, Condemnation and Prevention Month is also sincerely appreciated. We applaud the House of Commons, which in 2015 unanimously passed a motion declaring April 24th as Armenian Genocide Memorial Day!

Today, as we bow before the memory of those who perished, we witness the unprecedented consolidation and resolve of our people to build a free, peaceful and modern state; a Homeland for all Armenians - where the descendants of the victims of the Armenian Genocide and of those who have survived can live in peace.

Let me finish with the quote from the movie that many of you already watched, The Promise. You remember what Ana Ghazarian said to Mikael: our revenge is to survive! I would slightly change it to: to survive, to live and to prosper! Keep the Promise!!!

Thank You.
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