GLENVIEW, Ill.—The Chicago Armenian community marked the 36th anniversary of the Lisbon Five on Sunday during an event organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Chicago “Christapor” Gomideh.
In his opening remarks, Armen Papazian described how at 10:30 in the morning on July 27, 1983, five young Armenians stormed the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal demanding justice from Turkey for its 1915 genocide of Armenians. The young group, now known as the Lisbon Five, set off an explosion, killing themselves and destroying the building. Papazian referred to a statement released by the group to media at the time, “This is not a suicide nor an expression of insanity, but rather our sacrifice to the altar of freedom.”
Areni Artinian, a member of the Chicago “Ararat” AYF-YOARF, was then invited to read the full text of the statement issued by the Armenian Revolutionary Army regarding the attack on the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon.
Then Papazian provided some background on the period of armed struggle, giving context about the significance of the Lisbon act. He described how the modern armed struggle began when a genocide survivor from Garin named Kourken Yanikian assassinated two Turkish diplomats in 1973. In the subsequent decade, dozens of other Turkish diplomats would be assassinated worldwide by Armenian youth who were frustrated by the world’s inaction and silence in the face of Armenian calls for justice and by Turkey’s aggressive campaign of denial of the Armenian Genocide.
“However, the Lisbon operation was of a completely different nature,” said Papazian. “They went without planning to return, անոնք գացին անվերադարձ. They had gone not as assassins, but as martyrs,” he continued.
A brief video about the Lisbon attack and the subsequent funeral of the Lisbon Five in Beirut was then presented, concluding with a moving segment of the five martyrs singing Verkerov Li. After the video presentation, five members of the Chicago “Ararat” AYF-YOARF read individual statements made by the members of the Lisbon Five. The messages of Simon Yahneian (age 21), Ara Kurjulian (20), Setrak Ajemian (19), Sarkis Aprahamian (21) and Vatché Daghlian (19) were read by Raffi Sarrafian, Armen Surenian, Talar Panossian, Aleena Surenian and Aleen Soulakian, respectively, in Armenian.
In his concluding remarks, Papazian described how, after more than three decades, the dedication and sacrifice of the Lisbon Five “continues to be an inspiration and an example not only for our youth but for all Armenians as we continue to pursue our just demands for the return of our lands and for reparations for the Armenian Genocide.”