Senators Markey and Warren Criticize Obama’s Annual Statement
BOSTON, Mass.—On Fri., April 24, nearly 3,000 people marched from the Massachusetts State House to the Armenian Heritage Park in Boston as part of a series of events that marked the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, organized by the Massachusetts Committee to Commemorate the Armenian Genocide. U.S. Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, Governor Charlie Baker and former Governor Deval Patrick, Members of Congress Mike Capuano and Katherine Clark, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh were among the speakers.
A recurring theme throughout their speeches was Turkey’s century-long denial campaign and the complicity of other states due to the gag-rule imposed by successive Turkish administrations. In anticipation of the mounting pressure this year, the government in Turkey undertook many measures to minimize potential losses, including commemorating the centennial of the Battle of Gallipoli on April 24, the Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
Both U.S. Senators from Massachusetts spoke at the commemorative ceremony at the Armenian Heritage Park. Markey and Warren were outspoken about the reluctance of the Obama Administration to use the term “genocide” in the annual statement marking the occasion, and called on the president to honor his promise and officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. “We know what happened. We should not be afraid to say it,” said Markey. “Our president should call it a genocide.”
“The Armenian people just want the truth acknowledged,” Warren stated, “and if we’re not willing to tell the truth, then we really do run the risk that this will happen again in other places around the world.”
In his speech, ANC of Eastern Massachusetts Chairman Dr. Dikran Kaligian touched on the divisive tactics used by Turkey to derail the Armenian nation from demanding truth and justice. He went on to note the corrupting effects of Turkish denial on the American government, public schools, and universities. “But the wall of denial is cracking. When the Pope, the European Parliament, Austria, Germany, and newspapers around the world are calling on Turkey to finally come to terms with its own history, we see the reaction,” Kaligian said, “The world must recognize that the Republic of Turkey was built on Armenian blood and Armenian sweat and Armenian labor, and that is why reparations are an integral part of justice for the Armenian Genocide.”
At Ashburton Park, a sea of flags met the dignitaries who spoke at the Massachusetts State House commemoration that preceded the march. Governor Charles Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, Representative David Muradian, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and Representative Jonathan Hecht were among the speakers at the ceremony.
Soprano Nouné Karapetian, the Zankagner Choir, the Sayat Nova Dance Company, duduk master Martin Haroutunian, and the Erebouni Armenian Dance Ensemble all contributed their artistic talents to performances during the two ceremonies. Commemorative Committee co-chairman James Kalustian served as master of ceremonies and the Very Reverend Father David Findikyan delivered the prayer at Armenian Heritage Park.
Following the afternoon commemoration, a multi-media youth vigil at the Heritage Park traced the journey of the Armenian people from darkness to light. Artistic performances, prayers, and statements by Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Attorney General Maura Healey, Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and Rwandan Genocide survivor Marie Carine Boggis were among the highlights of the event.
On Thurs., April 23, Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square was filled to capacity for an Interfaith Memorial Prayer Service marking the Armenian Genocide Centennial. Heartfelt messages were delivered by Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios on behalf of the Orthodox community, Rabbi Ronne Friedman of Temple Israel on behalf of the Jewish community, Mary Johnson of the Islamic Center of Boston on behalf of the Muslim community, and Bishop Gayle Harris of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts on behalf of the Protestant community.
“But to the martyrs of 1915 we also owe the full recognition of the monstrously systematic murder and assassination of identity called genocide… No more denial” was a key part of Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s message on behalf of the Catholic community, read by Bishop Arthur Kennedy.
“We will not mince words… We will not use euphemisms to speak of the ‘Armenian Question’ as if there’s something left unanswered,” said Reverend Laura Everett of the Massachusetts Council of Churches in her homily. “We will name the evil that has overtaken this body, the body of Christ. We will name this evil for what it is: genocide,” she concluded.
The steering committee of the Massachusetts Committee to Commemorate the Armenian Genocide is comprised of Jim Kalustian (co-chair), Ara Nazarian (co-chair), Anthony Barsamian (co-chair), John Avedissian, and Dikran Kaligian. The sub-committee organizing the commemorative program at the Massachusetts State House was co-chaired by Lalig Musserian and Herman Purutyan. The youth vigil sub-committee was co-chaired by Carnie Armenian, Armine Afeyan, and Palig Mouradian. Numerous buses that transported attendees from churches and community centers to the events were organized and donated by the Knights of Vartan. Representatives of all Armenian organizations and churches participated in the organization of the commemorative events, which will continue through 2015. To view a schedule of upcoming events, visit neremembers1915.org.
In a statement, the steering committee wrote: “We were honored to organize the 100th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Our ancestors would have been proud to see the community come together in affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and our continued quest for justice on their behalf. It is a privilege to have led the community and we thank all faith and political leaders, affiliate organizations, and the people of Massachusetts for standing up with us as one and saying, ‘Never again.’”