Mouradian: The Sound of Footsteps on April 24 in Istanbul

If you were one of the few hundred people in Istanbul who publicly commemorated the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2010, you probably heard the sound of footsteps.

Activists holding photos of murdered Armenian intellectuals during the Genocide commemoration at the Haydarpasha Station in Istanbul. (Photo by Mujgan Arpat)

I am not referring to the footsteps of the defiant Turks, Kurds, and Armenians who gathered at open-air commemoration events. Nor am I referring to the footsteps of the counter-demonstrators who held placards that read “The Armenian Genocide is an imperialist lie” and who yelled, “Death to the Armenian Diaspora!”

Daniel Varoujan—the prominent Armenian poet who was arrested on April 24, 1915 and eventually killed, like hundreds of his fellow Armenian intellectuals—said in one of his poems that he could hear the footsteps of a rose-flooded dawn. From a distance of 95 years, you, dear friend, were probably were hearing the sounds of the very same footsteps.

I know I was.

And the sounds of footsteps were gradually becoming louder.

I was hearing those footsteps as I watched Kurdish women hold pictures of their “disappeared” sons and pictures of Armenian intellectuals murdered in 1915. I was hearing those footsteps as I attended the commemoration at Haydarpasha Station. I was hearing those footsteps as I delivered a genocide commemoration lecture in Beyoglu. And I was hearing those footsteps during the vigil on Taksim Square.

An activist holding Varoujan’s picture at one of the commemoration events in Istanbul on April 24. (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian)

The footsteps of Varoujan’s rose-flooded dawn of victory. The victory of memory over amnesia, affirmation over denial, and action over indifference.

On April 24, 2010, I was in Istanbul for you, Varoujan.

For all that your work, your life, and your murder means to me. And I, too, heard the footsteps.

The Turkish version of this article appeared in this week’s issue of Agos.

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian

Khatchig Mouradian is the Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist at the Library of Congress and a lecturer in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. He also serves as Co-Principal Investigator of the project on Armenian Genocide Denial at the Global Institute for Advanced Studies, New York University. Mouradian is the author of The Resistance Network: The Armenian Genocide and Humanitarianism in Ottoman Syria, 1915-1918, published in 2021. The book has received the Syrian Studies Association “Honourable Mention 2021.” In 2020, Mouradian was awarded a Humanities War & Peace Initiative Grant from Columbia University. He is the co-editor of a forthcoming book on late-Ottoman history, and the editor of the peer-reviewed journal The Armenian Review.
Dr. Khatchig Mouradian

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  1. Your essay brings me there and is very valuable to all of us.   Keep up your writing … you are very talented.

  2. I think this was one of the most important demonstration/genocide related activity this year. I believe that the change will and must come from within. I would have loved to be there this year supporting those brave men and women who took a HUGE risk by taking the streets and demanding that truth be heard and justice be served. It is time for the diapsora to refocus its energy on supporting and empowering this type of turkish action rather than only yell at foreign governments for recognition and demand lands from the Canadian, American or French governments… this is what we used to do when I was in Montreal!

  3. A very touching article, Khatchig. These commemoration events that took place on Turkish soil for the first time on April 24 since 1915 mark a cornerstone in the history of our nation. It’s a victory for the Armenian Genocide suvivors and all their descendants who took upon themselves the legacy of fighting till the dawn, when justice will prevail. God bless them all. And you’re one of them.

  4. I got goosebumps where I read the article..

    Very powerful.  Khachig, I hear the footsteps too…

    We will have the victory..

    God Bless..

  5. I wander how many Armenians know about Daniel Varoujan—the prominent Armenian poet?
    “like hundreds of his fellow Armenian intellectuals” When it comes to our fellow Armenians intellectuals who were murdered, not only killed, we must be exact.

  6. Great work Khachig,
    These demonstrations in Turkey must be talked about and covered on a much more magnified level, especially in countries such as Britain, USA, Israel and Australia.  These Turkish citizens need to be applauded for their bravery and decency.  These were by far the most meaningful and powerful demonstrations at April 24.

  7. I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, but a few hundred Turks and Kurds commemorating the Armenian Genocide doesn’t excite me. During the Genocide a few hundred Turks and Kurds helped save the lives of their Armenian neighbors. Nothing will change until it is officially recognized by the Turkish Government.

  8. Interesting observation, Vramshapuh regarding reserving your optimism, but I am grateful as an Armenian to know that this event took place.  It is very significant and I am in awe of those who took part in the April 24th commemoration in Istanbul.
    Khatchig, little cross, you are an inspiration.  It’s nice to be reminded to go back and look at the writings of some of those who perished on April 24th, to get to know their thoughts, and to add our footsteps to the coming dawn.  Thank you!

  9. Papken and Katia K.. we have missed you..;)  Glad to see your comments…

    Vramshapuh… I agree with you.. The small circle of supports and demonstrators with courageous hearts is a great step forward but this does not meant we need to stop fighting…We need to continue to walk with strong force…


  10. I am hundred percent with Raffi. Yes, as Hrant Dink said it, the change has already started. You should read the articles in Taraf , Zaman, and Radikal newspapers. They have millions of readers. By the way not only hundred or two hundred people are  with us, You need to remember the funeral of Hrant Dink. Two hundred thousand people attended and the whole city was shut down. It is hard to accept some realities, but we need to see this big change from another angle. Change has to come from both sides. We need to change our old and primitive tactics. If we know that our nation had a genocide and every one of us affected, why we are begging them to accept this. I do not understand this at all.We know what happened. We need to move on to another step. We are too late. Thanks God Hrant did such a huge impact in our lives. We need to follow him. .

  11. Dear Khatchig Mouradian,
    thank you, so much, for this article.
    Many years ago I translated “The Song of Bread” of Varoujan in Italian, and it was part of my inspiration for my book “Skylark Farm”.
    I was particularly moved by the photo of the activist with Varoujan’s picture!
    Antonia Arslan 

  12. Dear Ms. Arslan,
    I read your book a few years ago. It’s wonderful.  Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to see the movie, which I believe won oscars in the Berlin Movie Festival. My grandparents were survivors of the Genocide and I’ve been a long time fan of Taniel Varoujan’s poems. Khatchig Mouradian’s words in this article did resonate in me. I find it beautiful that no matter how much pain we have endured as a nation, and how many different countries we’ve been scattered to, once again, we’ve risen as one, probably with more knowingness in our hearts, more confidence and hope.
    Lalig Arzoumanian

  13. Dear Antonia,

    I too was moved by the picture.. Just by looking at the person holding the picture, you can feel his pain, his sadness.. As if he is bleeding inside and carries the silent cry of his heart in his eyes..simply grieving for Varoujan and the rest who perished During the Ottoman Turks Genocide of the Western and Eastern Armenians.. I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart and everyone else who participated in this event…


  14. Ani, I think you hit it right on the spot. Hrant’s funural showed as to how many people really want that change to come within and for their country.
    Vramshapuh, Gayane, these people actually risked their freedom by going out on teh streets and holding posters and banners that commemorates the Armenian Genocide. I mean MUCH braver that the thousands of Diasporans who demonstrate in free democratic countries – where they know that they will not be jailed or tortured or isolated by their immediate surrounding. Let’s give credit when its due… and by the way, no one said we should stop our fight, but come on, let’s capitalize on this action and promote it and tell people that SEE< EVENT THE TURKISH PEOPLE KNOW THIS ASA FACT AND ARE COMMEMORATING IT… play it up!

  15. A note to clarify my first comment, if I may:
    I’ve mentioned: “The dawn, when justice will prevail,” referring to the “rose-flooded dawn,” that Daniel Varoujan heard the footsteps of…
    We (the descendants, over generations) are still fighting to get there one day; yet this, in my opinion, is still a victory.

  16. I personally know one or two of the people sitting on those steps.  I do not agree with some of  their positions and statements but will defend their right to opine as they wish.
    What are my chances you think of surviving a similar gesture, holding the pictures of bodies of my mutilated and murdered ancestors in places like Bitlis and Van and Mus, in some public venue say in Erivan?  How far you think I would go carrying a plackard denying the so-called genocide in Armenia, or France or Switzerland?  Such freedom loving people…  really?

  17. Murat, there is no law forbidding you to do just that in Armenia… as opposed to 301 – the law that killed and imprisoned many Turkish citizens.

  18. Countries who Recognized The Armenian Genocide
    1.Uruguay (A Parl. Res. was adopted in 1965, followed by a Law adopted in 2004)
    2.Cyprus (A Parliamentary Resolution was adopted in 1982)
    3.European Union (Parl. Res. adopted in 1987, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005)
    4.Argentina (A Senate Resolution was adopted in 1993, followed by a Law adopted in 2004)
    5.Russia (A State Duma Resolution was adopted in 1995)
    6.Canada (Resolutions were adopted in 1996, 2002 and 2004)
    7.Greece (A Parliamentary Resolution was adopted in 1996)
    8.Lebanon (Resolutions were adopted in 1997 and 2000)
    9.Belgium (A Senate Resolution was adopted in 1998)
    10.France (Parl.  Res. were adopted in 1998 & 2000, followed by the Law in 2001)
    11.Sweden (A Parliamentary report of 2000)
    12.Vatican (In 2000)
    13.Italy (A Resolution adopted in 2000)
    14.Switzerland (A Resolution adopted in 2003)
    15.Slovakia (A Resolution adopted in 2004)
    16.The Netherlands (A Resolution adopted in 2004)
    17.Poland (A Resolution adopted in 2004)
    18.Venezuela (A Resolution adopted in 2005)
    19.Germany (A Resolution adopted in 2005)
    20.Lithuania (A Resolution adopted in 2005)
    21.Chile (A Resolution adopted in 2007)

  19. Raffi jan.. You completly misunderstood my intentions when I stated that jst because we have selected groups of courageous people demonstrated in Turkey, it does not mean we have to relax…..

    My thought  behind what I wrote (I am sure it goes to Vramshapuh as well) is of course not to push aside these courageous acts.. I personally bow to their feet with great admiration and gratitude.. I praise their firm stand on justice and truth.. I never said dismiss their actions and do not give credits..They deserve all the credits… That was not my point.. The point I was trying to make is simply this: just because we see movements, it does not mean we need to stop our fight… We acknowledge and encourage events such as these in Turkey and around the world; however our mission is not yet completed… Hope that I was able to explain myself better to show that my intent was nothing but “lets never stop and give up fighting”…..

    Murat, why are you continuing digging a hole with your unintelligent comments…did we have not have enough of that???  Till now, you still misspell the capital of Armenian.. IT IS EREVAN or YEREVAN NOTTTTTTTTTT Erivan…It is not Turkish.. It is Armenian.. Get it right…


  20. To Arzoumanian with thanks, 
    Please add to your list:
    All Arabs specially old generation they know all stories of genocide and many of their grand grandmothers are Armenians, mostly changed their names to Marriam which means Maria because  they were christian respecting their identity as they could not pronounce their difficult name like Seranoosh ,Vartanoosh…etc
    I know a Syrian physician, his grandmother and his wife’s grand mother are both Armenians.
    Iranians have published many books on Genocide.

    Latest Statistics: 44 out of 50  states in USA recognized the Armenian Genocide, only 6 states left.
    Also the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments not English MPs yet!

    An English editor adviced me that word ‘Genocide’ should be written with a capital letter.

  21. Thank you all for the comments.
    Dear Antonia Arslan, I remember reading about the Varoujan translation in one of the Lebanese Armenian newspapers as a teenager in Beirut. And I, too, find “Skylark Farm” to be a great book.
    I have received a few requests to cite the Varoujan poem I am referring to. The poem is titled “Charte” (The Massacre). Here’s the link to the entire poem (the quote I use is at the very end):
    Khatchig Mouradian

  22. Շնորհակալութիւն, Խաչիկ.

    Որքան հզօր է մայրենի լեզուն.

    ” …Պիտի կանգնին գերեզմանին մեջ իրենց,
    Ու անհանմբեր հեռուն, հեռուն ակնապիշ
    Պիտի սպասեն վարդահեղեղ գալուստին
    Արլաշույսի մ՛Արշալույսի մը ՝ որուն
    (հավատացե՛ք ինձ, Մայրեր,)
    Ես ոտնաձայնը կ՛առնեմ…
                                           Դանիել Վարուժան”


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