BOSTON—Each April, the Armenian community of Greater Boston holds a number of commemorative events to honor and remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide and to voice the community’s demands for justice.
Massachusetts State House Commemoration: April 20
This year, like in previous commemorations, several Massachusetts politicians will join the Boston-Armenian community for the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on the morning of April 20 in the historic Massachusetts State House.
Bedrosyan will tell the story of the Armenian orphans left behind in Turkish state orphanages, state military schools, and Turkish and Kurdish homes, who were forcefully Islamized, Turkified and Kurdified. It will be the story of these orphans, who secretly kept their Armenian roots and passed them on to the next generations despite all pressures for assimilation. It will be the story of the grandchildren of these orphans, who now show the courage after 100 years to openly reveal their original Armenian roots and return to their Armenian identity, language and culture. It will be the story of the triggering events which helped the hidden Armenians come out again, as well as the difficulties and challenges facing them in a harsh environment, surrounded by a hostile state, neighbors, employers and even their own families.
Bedrosyan, a civil engineer, writer and concert pianist living in Toronto, Canada, helped organize the reconstruction of Surp Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakir (Dikranagerd), the first such reconstruction and return of property project in Turkey, and gave the first Armenian piano concert there since 1915. He is the founder of Project Rebirth, which helps Islamized Armenians return to their original Armenian roots, language, and culture.
Nerkararyan is a graduate of the Komitas State Conservatory in Yerevan with a 2008 master’s degree in vocal performance from Azusa Pacific University. She has performed in many operatic roles and also often sings Armenian repertoire.
Massachusetts State Representative David Muradian, who serves on several committees and is a member of the Knights of Vartan, will serve as the master of ceremonies at the State House. During the ceremony, the nationally important Boston-area English-language Armenian newspapers, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator and the Armenian Weekly, will be honored with certificates for their respective editors-in-chief, Alin Gregorian and Rupen Janbazian.
Armenian clergy, Homenetmen scouts and the children of St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School have roles in the ceremony, as do various Massachusetts politicians. Two recipients of the George Keverian Memorial Scholarship will also be announced.
Armenian Heritage Park Commemoration: April 21, 3 p.m.
The following day, on April 21, a commemorative event open to the public, will be held at the Armenian Heritage Park on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway at 3 p.m.
The two commemorations are jointly organized for the first time this year and the target of the programs, according to the committee’s two young co-chairs, will focus on coming together as a community, united against genocide.
“Each year, our committee aims to present a fresh program, full of new novel ideas—whether it is through different speakers, new dance and vocal performances, and so forth. This year’s program is to encourage and be able to connect with the community’s youth,” committee co-chair Saro Sakaian, an active member of various Armenian organizations and initiatives in the Boston-area, told the Armenian Weekly.
The Heritage Park commemoration will feature several speakers including Representative Muradian and Janbazian of the Weekly.
“Our program, especially with our speakers, this year is to allow the youth to feel a sense of exigency and excitement by the time they are leaving the park. We hope to fill the park with young souls who are excited about the future and making a change,” Sakaian added.
According to the commemoration committee’s other young co-chair, Michael Demirchian, this year’s committee has taken all of the ideas from past years and integrated them to produce improved programs as well as improved efforts for publicity. “Our program lineup varies significantly from year to year adding new and exciting elements,” Demirchian, who is also active in a number of community organizations, added. “We have some first-time participants this year that we hope will truly inspire those in attendance to continue the fight, not just for one day each year, but for many years to come.”
Scheduled performers at the Heritage Park commemoration include Armenian-American rapper R-Mean, Zangakner Performing Arts Ensemble, with more acts to be announced.
Protest at the Consulate General of Turkey: April 21, 1 p.m.
Prior to the commemoration at the Armenian Heritage Park, the local Armenian Youth Federation (AYF-YOARF) “Nejdeh” chapter in collaboration with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Sardarabad gomideh, have planned a demonstration, protesting Turkey’s ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide.
The protest will take place at the Consulate General of Turkey (31 St James Ave., Boston, Mass. 02116) beginning at 1 p.m., after which demonstrators will march to the Heritage Park to take part in the commemoration.
Silent Protest at Heritage Park: April 24
The AYF-YOARF Greater Boston “Nejdeh” chapter has also organized a silent protest at the Armenian Heritage Park on April 24 from 12 p.m.-7 p.m. to pass along the strong message of the importance of genocide recognition and justice for the Armenian Genocide to the Boston community.
“This will not only raise awareness and show our demand for justice but also our demand for reparations and restitution,” reads a part of a short statement published by the chapter.
The chapter is also asking for community members to sign up for the silent protest here.