The legacy of the 1.5 million and our continuing demand for justice

AYF-ER Central Executive member Aram Balian delivering his remarks at the Washington, DC March for Justice, April 24, 2022

Editor’s Note: The following speech was delivered by the author during the March for Justice led by the AYF Washington DC “Ani” Chapter outside the White House on April 24, 2022.

I stand alongside you today with the shared weight of 107 years of memory, 107 years of pain, 107 years of injustice on our shoulders as we commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide, as we continue our march for truth…truth in the service of justice.

And I stand here humbled.

I’m humbled by the ultimate sacrifice of 1.5 million Armenian heroes and martyrs who died not for their present, but for the promise of our people’s future. 

Those 1.5 million ensured our nation’s future by marching to certain death in defiance of the genocidal Turks whose callous progeny, heartless descendants, we saw counter-protesting today. 

The sacrifice of our 1.5 million martyrs is the foundation upon which our nation is built, a foundation from which our people will never falter, even as we face enemies both external and internal. 

Those 1.5 million died because their culture, their heritage, their people, their nation was paramount. 

Those 1.5 million were murdered because they did not acquiesce. They did not run from the Turks who would see us wiped from history. 

One province at a time.

One village at a time. 

107 years ago it was Van, Ani and Moush.

Two years ago, it was Shushi and Karvachar.

Today, it is Parukh and Martuni.

Tomorrow, it is Syunik and Meghri. 

Those 1.5 million gave everything so we may live, so that we could see the First Republic in 1918, so that we could see the liberation of Artsakh in 1994, and so that we can and we will, see a free Shushi, a free Hadrut, a free Nakhichevan, Javakhk and Artsakh once again. 

Their legacy is not one of capitulation, but defiance. It is not one of fear, but strength. It is not one of subjugation, but freedom. Let us honor them as such. 

We owe everything to those 1.5 million, just as we owe everything to our grandparents, parents, siblings, family and friends, together with whom we confirm the indomitable and interminable Armenian spirit through our survival each and every day.

We have, in our ceaseless struggle, our ceaseless love, our ceaseless existence, shown what it means to be Armenian – what it means to be a part of this tiny tribe of people who, horror after horror, injustice after injustice, refuses to surrender. 

And we refuse to surrender because our justice has not been achieved.

Our lands, still occupied. Our churches, still in ruins, Our culture, still under threat. 

Our nation once again stands on the precipice of destruction, the work of 1915 continuing today, aided and abetted by traitors, capitulants and demagogues. 

Erdogan would see the Armenian question solved once and for all. Aliyev would see Syunik annexed, and Pashinyan would see Artsakh destroyed.

We are hearing of normalization, reconciliation, delimitation, unblocked communication, no preconditions and more…words of a so-called “rapprochement.” 

The so-called “doves” of a so-called “peace” are in flight, and yet the actions of the butchers in Baku, the terrorists of Turkey, prove that Aliyev and Erdogan will never stop. They will never be satisfied until our nation is wiped from existence and until our history is nothing more than a footnote in a textbook. They will not stop until the Genocide their forefathers started is complete. 

These are not misunderstood neighbors to be appeased with land concessions and unblocked communications, but instead are genocidal fascists, to be resisted, to be fought and to be defeated.

Our struggle does not end, and it will not end, without justice—without justice that includes recognition, reparations and restitution. We demand justice for us, justice for Artsakh and justice for the 1.5 million that were murdered.

We will have our lands back, we will raise our flags in Moush, Kharpert and Bitlis. We will raise our flags in Kedashen, Hadrut and Shushi. For there is no Armenia without our sacred ancestral lands. For there is no Armenia without Artsakh. 

It is our duty as Diasporan Armenians to be the second army of the Armenian people…to always make our voices heard, to make our representatives, our media, our colleagues, our friends, understand what our nation faces so that the sacrifices of our people 107 years ago and two years ago will not have been in vain.

And so, we will continue our march to justice until the historical and timeless rights of our nation are fully restored.

Together, we can make a difference, and united, we are strong.

We will not bend. We will not bow. We will never break. Our enemies are strong, our resolve stronger. 

For we will stand strong and true – shoulder to shoulder across the Armenian nation.

Մեր պայքարը չի վերջանար, ոչ այսօր, ոչ վաղը, ոչ ալ հարիւր տարիէն:

Որովհետեւ մենք հայ ենք, եւ հայ պիտի մնանք:

Արար աշխարհ թող իմանայ: Հայը միշտ կայ և կը մնայ:

Aram Balian

Aram Balian

Aram Balian is vice president of business development at Haverford Homes. He previously worked in investment banking and financial technology. Aram was formerly the executive director of the ANCA Eastern Region; he currently serves on the ANCA-ER board. Aram graduated cum laude with a BA in political science and psychology from Columbia University. He is an AYF alumnus and served as treasurer and vice-chair of the AYF Eastern Region Central Executive.
Aram Balian

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