The Lisbon Five: Exemplifying Sacrifice and Dedication

By Alik Ourfalian

What would you do if you were bleeding out on a crowded street, but nobody paid attention to your cry for help? If hundreds of people were walking right by you, but nobody cared enough to help? If the person who stabbed you was walking among them, but nobody confronted him? If you had no home, no friends, no place to go?

‘Ara, Sarkis, Setrag, Simon, and Vache gave their lives. They made the ultimate sacrifice, and that’s not just empty rhetoric.’ (Graphic by Razmig Titizian/AYF Canada)

Would you accept your fate and die alone? Or would you do anything you could to save yourself?

Just 40 years ago, the Armenian people were bleeding out. Two generations removed from the genocide, yet our wounds were still deep. Our home was taken from us. We lived in foreignness. Our basic human rights were overlooked.

At the same time, our people watched as Germany was punished for the Holocaust. But who, after all, speaks today of the genocide of the Armenians?

Nobody did.

What about us? What about our rights? We pleaded and protested. We appealed to the world and the United Nations. Nothing worked. The world remained silent. Turkey continued its campaign of denial. The Armenian Question remained unresolved. Nobody seemed to care.

It’s difficult for today’s generation to fully grasp what it meant to live in that time, in that situation. We may still live in foreignness today, but we have a homeland. We’ve grown up knowing that an independent Armenia is a plane ride away. We don’t know what it means to yearn for a homeland.

The period of armed struggle, like the Bank Ottomans and Khanasor Expeditions before it, brought the Armenian Question to the world stage. An imperative step in our history, it made the world care about our Cause, so that today we have a voice. So that we can continue fighting for our Cause, through whatever appropriate means we have.

Ara, Sarkis, Setrag, Simon, and Vache gave their lives. They made the ultimate sacrifice, and that’s not just empty rhetoric. What’s more important than life? They hadn’t lived life. They were around 20 years old. But they didn’t care about material life and all its glories. They cared about the Armenian nation. They cared about the Armenian Cause. They died for a homeland they had never seen, so that we can see it today. They died to make the world care about us, about our Cause. Because they cared so much about our Cause.

Now they live eternally, forever immortalized in our history. They exemplify sacrifice and dedication of the highest degree, the courage to take on the entire world.

As we sing their songs, let us remember that everything they did, they did for us. So that we could see the homeland they never saw. We cannot let their memories die in vain. We will not let their memories die in vain.

«Կ’երդուենք անբիծ պատուովը ձեր ընդարձակել պայքարը մեր»:
“On your untarnished honor, we vow to expand our struggle…”


This piece was originally published by our sister publication, Asbarez news, on July 17—the 34th anniversary of the Lisbon Five—under the title “They Exemplify Sacrifice and Dedication.”

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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