NY ARF and AYF Host Program Honoring Khanasor, Lisbon Events

NY Hyortik AYF Chapter
69-23 47th Ave.
Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 651-1530
[email protected]
July 29, 2008
For Immediate Release

‘Standing Guard for Our Rights, Our Commitment is Forever’
New York ARF and AYF Host Commemorative Program Honoring Khanasor, Lisbon

NEW YORK – On July 25 the New York Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Hyortik
chapter joined the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) New York Armen
Garo Gomideh in commemorating the 111th anniversary of the Khanasor
Expedition and the 25th anniversary of the Lisbon 5 event. A capacity crowd
of community members, in particular a strong youth presence, joined both
organizations in the Armenian Center in Woodside, NY, to recall the
historical significance both had on the Armenian spirit and Cause.

After the singing of Mer Hairenik, ungerouhi Sossi Essajanian welcomed
clergy and guests. "With these two important events in our history, as
always, we show that we stand guard for our nation’s right today, tomorrow,
and forever," she said. Following this introduction Essajanian invited unger
Armen Caprelian to present a few words on behalf of the ARF Armen Garo
Gomideh. He said, "Thank you for joining us in commemorating the memory of
our unforgettable heroes of Lisbon and Khanasor. We are proud to acknowledge
that today’s program was organized by our young ungers and ungerouhis; we
realize that both events happened generations before them but yet they still
carry the spirit." He went on to note that this also shows that the ARF is
still passing the torch to its future generations.

In his remarks Caprielian discussed the work of Hai Tahd. He said. "Dear
friends, when it comes to helping the Armenian nation, the ARF and Armenian
National Committee have stood strong. We encourage you to stand with us in
every way: such as physically at events and financially with support.
Through these actions we commemorate the sacrifices of our past heroes whose
memories we honor this evening."

Next unger Mher Janoian from the AYF Central Executive offered thoughts on
behalf of the body. "In 1897 on July 25, exactly 111 years ago, the Khanasor
Expedition brought pride and hope to the Armenian people," he said. "This
success gave birth to intellectuals, workers and leaders, creating strong
support from the Armenian people in seeking self-defense and revolution and
in their own ability to achieve these. Thus they realized that there would
be no real help from the rest of the world but that they had to rely on
their own strength." Janoian continued by emphasizing that that same
knowledge was gained during the Lisbon 5 event. He said "Yes, the five youth
were passionate, but they rose above life’s everyday pleasures, financial
motivations, educational endeavors, family and friends. They stepped outside
the box of indifference encapsulating the youth and returned to their
historic Armenian roots."

Finally, Janoian turned his words to the Armenian youth at large. He said,
"The AYF calls on all Armenian youth organizations and associations to bring
together their members, organize meetings to work on keeping the Armenian
culture in the Diaspora and strengthening Armenia=85 The AYF stays away from
indifference and continues its oath by standing strong in defense of
Armenia, as faithful guardians of the Armenian Cause, people, church and

Following the AYF message ungerouhi Mary Yaralian discussed the historical
significance of the Khanasor Expedition. "The Khanasor Expedition has a
unique place in Armenian history and in the ARF’s work," because, she said,
it was a large-scale and successful expedition that took place on the
historic Armenian homeland and ended in victory. Yarlian’s presentation
highlighted the leaders of the expedition, the reasoning for the plan of
attack, and what actually happened during the battle. Her presentation was
accompanied by a slide show of images ranging from photos of expedition
groups to the flags used during the event, as well as the hand-written oath
taken by all fedayees before their departure.

Immediately following this the audience was transported to July 1983 when
AYF Hyortik president Sevag Parsehian read a compilation of detailed news
reports describing the attack on the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal.
"On Wednesday, July 27, 1983, five armed men attacked and occupied a Turkish
Embassy building in Lisbon, Portugal. After a pitched battle, they blew
themselves up when Portuguese government forces penetrated the building,"
read Parsehian. The account went on to describe how the youths barricaded
themselves in the Embassy then issued a statement that said, "We have
decided to blow up this building and remain in its ruins. This decision is
neither an act of suicide nor an indication of insanity; it is our sacrifice
on the alter of freedom=85"

A 30-minute documentary on the Lisbon 5 event was then shown. The film
highlighted the personalities and lives of the five youths from Lebanon. The
last 15 minutes presented actual footage of the youths as they spoke to the
world on video about their ideas, intents and beliefs. At the end of the
black-and-white segment the group sings a Verker-Ov Li before they departed
on their historic mission.

The impact of their actions and consequent death was not left unnoticed.
Five members of the Hyortik chapter took turns reading letters from
relatives of the youths, reflecting on their loss and understanding the
reason why they chose their actions. "We know that the destiny of the
Armenian has always been full of pain. My consolation is that my son did not
die an ordinary death; he sacrificed the spring of his life and became a
martyr along with his comrades on the road to the liberation of his nation
and his fatherland," read one letter in part.

Hearing from the voices of those left behind, the Hyortiks awakened the
spirit, ideas and determination of the youths as they presented a dramatic
skit to the poetic words of singer Karnig Sarkissian. After the five boys
kneeled shoulder to shoulder in a circle in the darkness, the inspiring
words brought them slowly to their feet and with them rising the Armenian
flag and posters reading "1915 Never Again," "Armenians Demand Justice," and
"Recognize the Armenian Genocide." The end of the short skit brought the
audience to their feet for a standing ovation.

After this, unger Ara Caprielian spoke about the historical and
psychological significance of these two events. In his presentation, given
all in Armenia, Caprelian said, "During the latter part of the 19th century,
Western Armenians were subjected to harrowing conditions in the Ottoman
Empire where they were denied elementary rights," he said. "On the one hand
they were subjected to massacres and other forms of oppression, while
students returning from European universities were imbued with liberation
ideas. Political parties were formed to carry on the struggle on behalf of
the people. The Khanasor Expedition was a major punitive, guerilla operation
directed against the Mazric Kurds who had previously killed many Armenians,"
said Caprielian. He concluded by saying that "The struggle on behalf of Hai
Tahd continues and we will succeed as long as our commitment is forever, our
resolve steadfast, and our willingness to sacrifice unshaken."

Finally Bishop Anoushavan Tanelian reflected on the event and the continued
spirit of the youth. He said, "Today, if we weren’t here, where would we be?
At home or in front of the television, it would be a normal day. But I am
proud, happy and congratulate the youth who brought us all together to
connect us with our roots." Tanelian went on to consider the connection
between the two events. He said that the stories are indeed from different
time periods but there is the same sprit that travels centuries from
Khanasor to Karakilise, Bash Abaran=85" Then he talked about the Artsakh
liberation struggle and how the spirit will continue "now, tomorrow and
forever." With those concluding words, the event ended with the
singing of *Harach
Nahadag* after which light reception was held.

Two days later on July 27, the Hyortiks joined the ARF Armen Garo Gomideh in
a hokihanisd that took place at the St. Illuminator’s Armenian Cathedral to
remember the martyrs of the Khanasor Expedition and the Lisbon 5 event.


(Photo credit on all photos: Raffi Maseredjian)

IMG_1547: AYF Hyortik chapter members presented a dramatic skit about Lisbon
5 to the poetic words of Karnig Sarkissian

IMG_1589: Bishop Anoushavan Tanelian reflected on the event and the
continued spirit of the youth

IMG_1560: Unger Ara Caprielian spoke about the historical and psychological
significance of these two events