By Rosario Teixeira
WATERTOWN, Mass.—During the month of April, Peace of Art, Inc. will display Armenian Genocide commemorative billboards on Mount Auburn and Arsenal Streets in Watertown, with the message “Mr. President, Don’t Turn your Back! Recognize the Armenian Genocide.” This year, Peace of Art will display a second message on a digital billboard in Foxboro, Mass., on Route 1 near Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place, with the message “Honoring the Memory of 1.5 million Lives. Recognize the Armenian Genocide.” This simple message is written against an image of Der Zor, covered with 1.5 million lights, one for each life lost. The desert witnessed the remaining Armenians who were forced to their death march by the Ottoman Turks, and became the last resting place for many of the refugees. This digital billboard went up on Easter Monday, April 9, the day of Remembrance of the Dead, Merelots.
“Mr. President, Don’t Turn Your Back! Recognize the Armenian Genocide” is a message to President Obama urging him to honor his 2008 campaign promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide. While on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama declared that “The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy… as president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.” However, on April 24, 2010, President Obama used the expression Meds Yeghern, a term used by Armenians to reference the Great Calamity, rather than “genocide,” a term coined by Rafael Lemkin in 1944, and formally adopted by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948. The President stated in part “… The Meds Yeghern is a devastating chapter in the history of the Armenian people, and we must keep its memory alive in honor of those who were murdered and so that we do not repeat the grave mistakes of the past.”
Daniel Varoujan Hejinian, president of Peace of Art, Inc., said that “It is morally wrong for the president to turn his back on his promise to acknowledge the mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.”