Hundreds Of Thousands March To Genocide Memorial In Yerevan

by Nanore Barsoumian

April 24, 2012

YEREVAN (A.W.)-Carrying carnations, daffodils, and lilies, hundreds
of thousands made the journey to the Armenian Genocide Memorial
at Dzidzernagapert on April 24. President Serge Sarkisian, Prime
Minister Tigran Sargsyan, Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II,
and government officials paid their respects in the morning. Around
noontime, people slowly inched forward-until they reached the monument
at the summit-a walk that lasted roughly two hours. Police periodically
blocked off the path to prevent congestion at the top.

Many shaded themselves with umbrellas and hats from the scorching
afternoon sun.

A scene from Dzidzernagapert on April 24, 2012 (Photo by Nanore
Barsoumian) The flood of people poured in from Kievyan Street. Sellers
lined the street displaying an array of flowers. Vayots Dzor native
Gisane Hakobyan, 21, said it was her first time partaking in the

A university student, Hakobyan said it is important “to respect our
victims.” Her classmate, 18-year-old Ashot Harutunyan agreed. “It is
our duty. We are paying our dues,” he said.

Opting out was not an option for 33-year-old Hambardzum Harutunyan.

“We have to come,” said the lawyer who revealed that his maternal
grandfather was a Genocide survivor from Sasoun. Harutunyan’s
grandfather and his sister were the only ones who escaped.

“This is a tragedy that will never be forgotten. It is the greatest
pain in the hearts of all Armenians,” said 52-year-old Tsolag
Harutunyan. Originally from Mush, Harutunyan’s family too had suffered
during the Genocide-when two of his great grandparents perished.

Setrak Mandoyan, 59, said he has been partaking in the April 24
commemoration events for as far back as he can remember. “I used to go
with my father, now I bring my grandson,” he said. “They used to hold
the commemoration event at the Opera House, until they constructed
this monument,” he added. Mandoyan’s paternal grandfather, also
named Setrak, lost all six of his brothers during the Genocide. His
grandparents, who hailed from Ardahan and Artvin, escaped to Batum
and made their way to Yerevan.

Photo by Nanore Barsoumian Sixteen-year-old Tamara (“Tamig”)
Tatevossian walked alongside her grandfather, brother, and 6-year-old
sister. It was a walk all too familiar for Tatevossian who came every
year since she was a little girl, her family too had been affected
by the Genocide. Originally from Hamshen, her grandfather’s family
fled from the Genocide and settled in Abkhazia until 1970, when they
moved to Yerevan.

Some took a few moments to visit the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute
adjacent to the monument, where an exhibit, “Book as a Witness of the
Genocide,” was launched a day earlier. The exhibit-made to coincide
with Yerevan being dubbed by UNESCO as the 2012 World Book Capital
and in honor of the 500th anniversary of Armenian printing-displays
first editions of around 300 books, some dating as far back as the
1850s. “We are expecting perhaps a couple of hundred thousand visitors
today,” said Asdghig, a museum guide.

According to her, April 24 and 25 are the busiest days of the year
at the museum.

The pile of flowers from the night before encircling the eternal
flame had turned into an almost four-foot tall wall. Dozens of
wreaths rested against the outer walls of the monument representing
the Armenian provinces lost during the Genocide.

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