By Rosario Teixeira
BOSTON, Mass.—In January 2015, Peace of Art, Inc., began to display digital billboards that commemorate the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide and pay tribute to all victims of genocides over the past 100 years. This project will continue through the end of the 2015, with electronic billboards displayed throughout the United States.
The first billboards were displayed in Foxboro, on Route 1 South, about a quarter mile from Gillette Stadium. Another digital billboard measuring 14’x48′ is located in Peabody, on I-95/128 facing south, approximately one mile from Market St. in Lynnfield. In Seattle, Wash., a large digital billboard is located in Bothel, on Highway 527 facing north. More locations and images will follow.
In reference to the first billboards, the president of Peace of Art, Daniel Varoujan Hejinian, said, “We are sending a message of peace to the world, to condemn the past crimes of genocide and resolve that no other nation be the next target of genocide. With the electronic billboards, Peace of Art’s message is that genocide continues to be a threat to humanity. It urges viewers to condemn the crime of genocide, to be alert…and put an end to this crime against humanity once and for all.”
The first of the billboards reads, “Condemn the Past, Don’t Be the Next Victim. Remember 1915 the Armenian Genocide.” Within the word “genocide,” the letter “o” is a target. The second of the electronic billboards reads, “In Remembrance of All Genocide Victims 1915-2015. The Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.” The letter “o” in “genocide” includes the flags of those countries that have recognized the Armenian Genocide, as well as a dove symbolizing peace.
The next billboard will read, “1915-2015 the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.” The letter “o” will have a heart (representing the heart of a nation) with a bite (representing the loss of 1.5 million people).
Since 1996, Hejinian, an artist, has been displaying large billboards in Massachusetts to inform the community at large to the reality of the Armenian Genocide. In 2003, Hejinian founded Peace of Art, a nonprofit organization that uses art as an educational tool to bring awareness to the universal human condition, and promote peaceful solutions to conflict. The organization is not associated with political or religious organizations, and its focus is on the global human condition.
Since the Armenian Genocide took place, millions of people have been the target of genocide, torture, rape, dispossession, and murder. These are only some of the genocides and mass atrocities that followed the Armenian Genocide of 1915: the Holocaust (1933-1945); Cambodian Genocide (1975-1979); ethnic cleansing in Bosnia (1992-1995); Rwandan Genocide (1994); and
Darfur Genocide (2003). Refugee camps are just a footnote to this ongoing tragedy. The general indifference of the international community is dangerous, allowing the crimes to be repeated without impunity.
A century ago in the Ottoman Empire, genocide was carried out against the Armenians, while reporters and foreign dignitaries, ambassadors and consuls, alerted the leadership of their respective countries. Henry Morgenthau Sr., the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, sent several appeals and protests to Ottoman officials as well as to the State Department. In 1915, the New York Times published 150 articles, one just about every other day, reporting on the ongoing atrocities. Governments remained indifferent, and proceeded with non-action according to their political interests. “Our only goal is to keep Turkey by our side until the end of the war, regardless of whether Armenians perish in the process or not,” the German imperial adviser Bethmann Hollweg said.
One hundred years have passed but many nations continue to ignore the crime of genocide taking place around the world. The international community has the power to put an end to these atrocities, and it should begin by recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide.
For more information on Peace of Art, Inc., visit www.PeaceofArt.org.