ARS Commemorates Genocide Centennial in NY

ARS Commemorates Genocide Centennial in NY

By Contributor on March 13, 2015 in Headline, Mid-Atlantic

Several events dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide,
initiated by the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Central Executive
Board, with the cooperation of the Regional Executive of ARS/Eastern
USA, were held with great success from March 5-7 in New York. The
weekend kicked off on Thursday evening, March 5, with the official
opening of the exhibit titled, `Stitching to Survive: Handwork of
Armenian Women’, at the United Nations Headquarters. This exhibit was
organized jointly by the ARS Central Executive Board and the Permanent
Mission of the Republic of Armenia at the UN. The function was
attended by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia at the
UN, the ARS Central Executive Board, members of ARS/Canada,
ARS/Eastern and Western USA, and ARS/South America, as well as UN and
NGO representatives, clergymen, and both Armenian and non-Armenian

A scene from the symposium titled `Rebuilding a Nation: The Armenian
Woman’s Century of Resistance and Empowerment.’

ARS Central Executive Board Chairperson, Vicky Marachelian, opened the
proceedings, stressing the dedication and tenacity exhibited by
Armenian women at all junctures of Armenian history to preserve the
Armenian family and culture. As Marachelian stated, `The exhibit
demonstrates the contribution of Armenian women to culture and it pays
tribute to the cultural expression of Armenian women. This miraculous
feminine force, dedicated to humanitarian endeavors, did not emerge
overnight. Emerging from the crucible of oppression, these future ARS
members made the daunting journey from the old world to the new, from
refugee to worker, from dependence to self-reliance.’ Referring to the
59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York,
Marachelian said, `As the year 2015 marks 20 years of the Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action, the ARS, as an ECOSOC accredited
NGO, is addressing issues of women’s empowerment and gender equality.
This exhibit intends to tell the story of women who empowered
themselves to support their families.’

Following Marachelian’s address, Armenia’s Permanent Representative to
the UN, Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, noted the unique nature of
this exhibit, as a symbol of the historic endurance of Armenian women
who had survived the crucible of the genocide. His Excellency
continued by mentioning that beyond survival, the Armenian woman had
mastered enough resolve to rebuild a new life on foreign shores. He
stated that the exhibit shares a story of people who, 100 years ago,
experienced the most heinous and dehumanizing mass exterminations and
deportations, which were defined as `crimes against humanity and
civilization.’ He concluded his remarks with words of high praise for
the ARS’s persistent input in achieving the success of this function,
indicative of the resolve and commitment of the Armenian people that
made possible the admission and raising of the Armenian flag at the

Clothing displayed at the exhibit

Following Amb. Mnatsakanyan’s remarks, Marachelian and the Ambassador
cut the ribbon, officially opening the exhibit for the evening’s
guests. It should be noted that this Armenian exhibit at the UN
Headquarters is being held at a time when thousands of representatives
from around the world are in New York City to take part in the
sessions of the 59th Conference of the UN Commission on the Status of
Women (CSW59). The exhibit demonstrates, for all those who visit, the
Armenian woman’s everlasting will to survive and thrive after the
genocidal attempt at annihilation of the Armenian nation.

The participation and performance of violinist Dianna Vasilyan
enhanced the evening’s atmosphere, to the enjoyment and appreciation
of all those present. The guests also enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres
generously provided for the event by the Almayass Armenian Restaurant
of New York City.

needlework displayed at the exhibit

The beautiful items on display were provided by the Armenian Museum of
America of Watertown, Mass., and ARS/Eastern USA. The ARS Central
Executive Board expresses its deep gratitude to the management of the
Armenian Museum of America for its kind cooperation, as well as to
curator, Susan Lind-Sinanian, for her active participation in setting
up this exhibition of Armenian women’s handwork. The Board also
extends sincere appreciation to all the contributors to the exhibit,
particularly to the main sponsors of the event; Mrs. and Mrs. Harout
and Vicky Marachelian, whose generous donation made the unqualified
success of this historic endeavor possible, once again sending a
message to the world, by way of the UN, of the continuous resiliency
and creative talent of the Armenian woman.

On Fri., March 6, the symposium titled `Rebuilding a Nation: The
Armenian Woman’s Century of Resistance and Empowerment’, organized by
the ARS/CEB Genocide Centennial Committee, took place in the Salvation
Army Hall in the presence of a large audience. Participating in the
conference were Dr. Eleni Theocharous, Member of European Parliament
and leader of EU-Armenia Friendship Group; Dr. Isabelle
Kaprielian-Churchill, Emerita Professor of Armenian Immigration
History, Department of History, California State University, Fresno;
Scout Tufankjian, photojournalist and author of There is Only the
Earth: Images from the Armenia Diaspora Project; Dr. Marian Mesrobian
MacCurdy, author of Sacred Justice: The Voices and Legacy of the
Armenian Operation Nemesis; and Bared Maronian, Executive Producer,
Armenoid Production Team.

On behalf of the ARS Central Executive Board, Caroline Chamavonian
opened the proceedings, inviting those present to stand and honor the
memory of the martyrs with a moment of silence. Following this solemn
beginning, Chamavonian welcomed the participants and invited the
master of ceremonies, Pauline Getzoyan of the ARS Central Executive
Board, to introduce the designated speakers of the symposium. Each
speaker presented his or her views, in a variety of approaches, on the
role of the Armenian woman during and after the genocide, as a
powerful force in the survival and revival of family and culture.

In her address, Dr. Theocharous focused on the theme of the
empowerment of Armenian women, noting the ravages of the Armenian
Genocide years and the role played by Armenian women during the
Artsakh Liberation War. She expressed admiration for the laudable role
played by the ARS in those difficult times, and stated that, being
fully aware of the just cause of Armenian demands for recognition and
reparations, she feels honored participating in the centennial
commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Dr. Theocharous concluded her
remarks by solemnly stating, `As long as I am alive, Turkey will not
join the European Union, unless it becomes a civilized country, unless
it recognizes the Armenian Genocide, and unless it gets out its troops
from Cyprus.’

Dr. Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill’s presentation was centered on the
theme of Armenian handwork and its impact on the lives of those who
survived the Armenian Genocide and used needlework as a means to
support their families. She emphasized the importance of the role
played by feminine creativity in the struggle for physical and
spiritual survival of the devastated Armenian nation.

Tufankjian, in turn, displayed emblematic photographs depicting
world-wide Armenian communities and synthesized the lifestyles of
diasporan Armenians. Maronian reevaluated the role of the pre- and
post-genocide Armenian women by showing segments of his films,
`Orphans of the Genocide’ and `Women of 1915.’ Dr. MacCurdy spoke
about the traditional Armenian woman’s silent yet persistent toil,
using her grandmother, Eliza Der Melkonian, one of the founders of
ARS, as a prime and inspirational example.

A commemorative dinner and cultural program dedicated to the
centennial of the Armenian Genocide, organized by the ARS/Eastern USA
Regional Executive, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop
Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern USA See of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, and the Armenian Relief Society Central Executive
Board, took place in New Jersey on Sat., March 7. In attendance were
Amb. Mnatsakanyan, Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vice-Prelate of
the Eastern USA Prelacy, several members of the clergy, members of the
ARS Central Executive Board, and a wide variety of guests, including
members of ARS/Canada, ARS/Eastern and Western USA, ARS/South America
and a large number of ARS supporters.

A group shot of the organizers and participants

This year, once again, the ARS participated in the 59th Conference of
the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Within the context of the
Armenian Genocide Centennial commemorative events, the ARS organized a
workshop entitled `Women and Diaspora: From Past to Post-2015,’ in
cooperation with the UN Permanent Missions of Armenia and Cyprus, as
well as several other NGOs. The workshop was opened by the Permanent
Representative of Cyprus to the UN, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou.
Representing women living and working in the Diaspora, Nanore
Barsoumian, editor of the Armenian Weekly, moderated the discussion,
inviting the participants to express their opinions and experiences.

A scene from the workshop entitled, `Women and Diaspora: From Past to Post-2015³

On behalf of the ARS, member Nora Simonian expressed her views on the
role of Diasporan women, describing the Armenian mother as the pillar
of the family and as the link to the homeland and Armenian culture.
Other panelists included Dr. Jim MacPherson from the University of the
Highlands and Islands; Semhar Araia, Executive Director of the
Diasporan African Women’s Network (DAWN); Sarah Gammage, Policy
Adviser, UN Women; and Harriet Pavles George, former judge of the
Housing part of the Civil Court of the City of New York. Concluding
remarks were made by Amb. Mnatsakanyan.

The four days of commemorating the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide
in New York, initiated by the ARS Central Executive Board,
demonstrated the indomitable resolve of the Armenian woman, along with
the ARS mission and calling, as torchbearers of the empowerment of
women and their role as guardians of Armenian identity, both in the
homeland and the Diaspora.

Amb. Mnatsakanyan and Marachelian cut the ribbon, officially opening the exhibit

Marachelian delivers her remarks at the opening of the exhibit

A group shot of the participants of the symposium titled `Rebuilding a
Nation: The Armenian Woman’s Century of Resistance and Empowerment’

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