PASADENA, CA — As part of Social Democrat Hunchakian Party’s events worldwide, commemorating the 98th anniversary of the “Twenty Gallows”, the Paramaz and Arsen Gidour Chapters of SDHP’s western region, in their turn, organized an event on July 25 to honor the memory of the twenty Armenian activists who were hung in Istanbul’s Sultan Bayazid Square on June 15, 1915.
This year’s event was significant and different in its format from past years because its purpose was to analyze the unprecedented commemorative events that took place in Turkey on June 13 and 15 of this year.
The evening’s Master of Ceremonies Vahe Atchabahian emphasized that the activities commemorating the “Twenty” in Istanbul were historical, stating that the efforts of the Turkish progressive youth who worked tirelessly to coordinate the activities should be commended. “Today’s progressive youth, by acquainting themselves with Paramaz and his friends, have come to realize the goals that they are pursuing within present day Turkey, were pursued decades ago by the martyred Armenians.”
SDHP Gaidz Youth Organization member Jano Khodanian presented in detail the activities and program objectives pursued by the “Twenty.” Khodanian said, “Although their plans did not come to fruition, the ‘Twenty’ have been a source of inspiration for thousands of young Armenians throughout the world, but most notably, to those who joined the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party.”
Sundukyan State Academic Theatre’s famous actor Harut Fodoulyan, eloquently narrated Paramaz’s legendary speech during trials in the Turkish court.
Delivering the keynote address of the evening, S. D. Hunchakian Party Central Committee member, Krikor Khodanian, stated that the observance of the anniversary by the Turkish Progressive Movements of the martyrdom of the “Twenty,” is considered a positive step towards recognition of the Armenian Genocide. At the same time, he cautioned of being overly optimistic taking into consideration the ulterior motives of the Turkish government tolerating such activities.
Mr. Khodanian presented a historical overview on Genocide recognition, from the 1965 worldwide demonstration in Soviet Armenia and the Diaspora, to the 2007 assassination of Hrant Dink. Events that both reawakened the Armenian people to pursue justice and brought the Armenian case to the forefront of the international court breaking the wall of silence in Turkey.
Significant events occurring along the 1965 protest included Gourgen Yanikian’s assassination of two Turkish consular officials, the formation and activities of the Armenian Secret Army, Turkish Foreign Minister Caglayangil meeting with the traditional three Armenian political parties, the Justice and Development Party coming to power in Turkey, the assassination of Hrant Dink and the subsequent reaction by Turkish society and lastly, the commemorations of the Armenian Genocide on April 24 in major Turkish cities in the last four years initiated by Turkish intellectuals in an effort to engage Turkish society with the historical realities of Turkey and apologize to Armenians.
“Consequently, many Turkish intellectuals are convinced the country is ready and within the next ten years the Turkish government will acknowledge the Armenian Genocide,” Mr. Khodanian addeed. “These intellectuals do not base their assessment on hopes and desires, but rather on study and analysis. Recently, a Turkish lecturer wrote ‘the hands of the clock are moving, and we are approaching the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Hence the world examines Turkey and expects it to face its recent history.’”
“Armenians are waiting as well and are ready to open a new page with our neighbor and its people if Turkey recognizes the historical truth of the Armenian people and arranges appropriate compensation,” added Khodanian. “Until that day comes to fruition, let the souls of our martyrs be venerated on April 24 and June 15 throughout Turkey.”
Mr. Khodanian’s remarks were followed by a video presentation documenting the historical events that took place on June 13 and June 15 in commemoration of the “Twenty” in Istanbul, Turkey this year. The twenty-minute coverage included the panel discussion, along with the commemoration which took place at Sultan Bayazid Square (Bayazit Meydani) on June 15, organized by various Turkish human rights activists, Turkish intellectuals and Turkish political figures and included the Chairman of the S.D. Hunchak party Executive Committee of Lebanon, Mr. Alexander Keushkerian.
The evening’s program included a recitation of Barouyr Sevak’s “Hayastan” by Nareg Klejian, a student of Arshak Dikranian Armenian school. Renowned Los Angeles-based Armenian American singer Done invigorated the audience with his powerful performance of patriotic songs.
SDHP Western Region Executive Committee Chairman Mr. Gabriel Moloyan, delivered a message on behalf of His Eminence Archbiship Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church. The message expressed the importance of the “Twenty” martyrs reiterating the significance of commemorating their legacy not only in the Diaspora, but within Turkey as well. His Eminence Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian, former Primate of the Western Diocese expressed his astonishment for not only the progression of the Turkish society’s willingness to confront their government’s denialist agenda, but also for the steps taken to commemorate the “Twenty” on the very same soil where they were martyred. Archbishop Hovspeian commended the activities of the Hunchakian Party and wished them continued success.