The following is the text of the speech delivered by Mr. Garry Sinanian at the 98th annual Times Square Armenian Genocide Commemoration on April 21, 2013.
Reverend clergy, distinguished guests, honorable leaders of the community, ladies and gentlemen,
I am truly privileged to be given the opportunity to speak here in New York’s Times Square about the first genocide of the 20th century. 98 years ago to this day in 1915, more than 300 Armenian leaders, writers, and professionals in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) were rounded up, deported and killed along with 5,000 ordinary Armenians who were butchered in the streets and in their homes.
Over 1.5 million Armenian lives stolen, 2/3 of ancestral land taken away. Adolf Hitler once famously said “Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?” How much longer is the Armenian Genocide going to be used as a template for future Genocides before it is recognized?
According to the world English dictionary genocide is the policy of deliberately killing a nationality or ethnic group. And that is exactly what the Ottoman leaders perpetrated against the Armenian people.
Unfortunately, To this day the Turkish government has not only denied the genocide, but has persecutes many of its citizens who have dared to speak about it or urge their government to recognize it.
Healing and reconciliation between the Armenians and Turks can only begin if the Turkish government musters enough courage to finally recognize the Armenian genocide.
Every tragedy has both victims and heroes, and it is important to recognize all those Turkish intellectuals, scholars, artists, writers, and ordinary citizens who so bravely stood up and declared “YES, there has been an Armenian genocide”. We cannot change the past, but we can begin to build a new era of Armenians-Turkish relations that is based on honesty and justice.
Today, we once again urge Mr. Erdoghan and his government to do the right thing and once and for all recognize the Armenian Genocide to rid the Turkish nation of the heavy burden of its painful past and begin the healing process for Armenians and Turks alike.