BEIRUT: Armenian-Lebanese Mark ‘Genocide Day’

By Anthony Elghossain

Daily Star – Lebanon
April 25 2008

Thousands attend vigil to remember massacres

BEIRUT: "History has not yet witnessed a more terrible crime – a crime
against humanity – than that of genocide," the Tashnak Party said
Thursday in a statement issued to commemorate the 93rd anniversary of
"Genocide Day," which marks the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman
Turkish forces during World War I.

Nerses Bedros XIX, the Armenian Catholic patriarch, in a ceremony
held at an Achrafieh cemetery for victims of the massacre, said that
"we are here today to plead the conscience of the global [community]
in hopes of bringing wider recognition of the massacre of Armenians."

The patriarch emphasized "our [the Armenian population’s] commitment
to the Armenian struggle and to the active role we have played in
the Christian struggle in Lebanon and the world."

The Armenian Apostolic (Orthodox) Church in Lebanon held
a Wednesday-evening gathering in the mountain town of Bikfaya to
remember the victims of the killings and reflect upon the meaning of
those events on the Armenian community today.

Aram I, archbishop of Cilicia, sought to convey the need for
remembrance and unity in the Armenian Lebanese experience, touching
upon memory, the assertion of rights and unity as a source of force.

"Memory is one of the more important facets of human existence –
indeed, human beings live in memory," the archbishop said. "The
Armenian genocide, organized and executed by the Ottoman state,
will forever remain etched in the Armenian memory."

The archbishop added that "peoples have, alongside their duties, rights
that must be asserted in case of marginalization [of those rights]."

Referring to divisions that have plagued the Armenian community and
stressing the need for communal unity, Aram I urged Armenians in
Lebanon to coalesce around their "national struggle," saying that
"a people can only grow strong through the unification of its sons
and placing common cause above all differences."

He also linked the Armenian and Lebanese "struggles" to one another,
stressing that "while Turkey oppressed the Armenian people, Lebanon
embraced [them] … Turks butchered Armenians, but in Lebanon we
found a nation of renaissance, life, and continuity."

Despite an intensifying political standoff, both the Lebanese Forces
and the Free Patriotic Movement issued statements "on this painful
commemoration" condemning the "massacre of the Armenian people."

During World War I, beginning in 1915, Ottoman Turks executed over
1.5 million Armenians in present-day Turkey, and prompted thousands of
others to flee to neighboring areas in the region, including Lebanon.

Several states recognize the killings as genocide, but Turkey neither
recognizes the killings as genocide nor assumes legal responsibility
for their execution.

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