The Mateós Sarkisian “Paramaz” Square, was inaugurated, on June 15, 2016, in recognition of the 101th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. “Paramaz” Square is located on Canning Jorge Artigas Boulevard, across from the iconic Obelisk of Montevideo monument. The space pays tribute to Armenian activist Mateos Sarkisian, known as the pseudonym “Paramaz” as well as the struggle of the Armenian people.
The activist is famous for the phrase he told his executioners: “You can hang our bodies but not our philosophy.”
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Montevideo interim-Mayor Oscar Curutchet, Urugayian Tourism Minister Liliam Kechichián, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Social Development Ana Olivera, Member of Urugayian Parliament Pedro Jostanian, Mayor of the Municipality CH Andrés Abt, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia, Rupen Aprahamian, and representatives of the Armenian community in Uruguay.
Interm-Mayor Curutchet stressed the importance of the square as a tribute to the values of freedom, coexistence and democracy for which Armenians fought for. “This is an act of recognition of the struggle of oppressed peoples. Paramaz was a leader of this movement and demonstrated the revolutionary struggle,” said Curutchet, “In this symbolic square of the City, Montevideanas and Montevideanos, preserve his memory.”
The Montevideyan City Council emphasized the remembrance of prominent Armenian national liberation movement Leader, Mateós “Paramaz” Sarkisian, and his 19 fellow Armenian martyrs who were hung in Sultan Bayazid Square; the central square of Constantinople.
A statement was read from the President of Armenia, Serj Sarkissian who also paid homage to Paramaz and his comrades as extraordinary individuals who struggled for right of the Armenian people to live. The Armenian President also highlighted the continued important friendship between the Republic of Uruguay and the Republic of Armenia.
Speaking on behalf of the Armenian community of Uruguay and South America were, Archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church Hakob Kellendjian, Social Democrat Hunchakian Party Central Committee member Mr. Samo Sarkisian; and Chairman of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party Executive Committee of Uruguay, Mr. Jorge Kinosian.
All three stressed the importance of the square and recalled that Uruguay was the leading country to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Paramaz was among the twenty executed Armenians during the Armenian Genocide who were members of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, which at its 7th General Convention in 1913, stressed their concern of the Young Turk government’s blatant disregard of Armenian lives, implementing a policy based on forced assimilation and the utilization of pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic ideas to rile Turkish peasantry against other ethnicities and ideologies as it suited their purposes.
Thus the SDHP 7th General Convention adjourned with two main objectives:
• First – The party was to move from authorized to illicit activities, thus becoming once again a covert organization to safeguard its structure and objectives.
• Second – The Central Committee was authorized to organize and implement the elimination of the Young Turks dictatorship, specifically Talaat, the chief architect of what would be the Armenian Genocide.
Nonetheless, the SDHP Central Committee was determined to pursue the search for peaceful solutions, if and when possible, especially with the Turkish and Kurdish populace of the Ottoman Empire.
Unfortunately, these objectives were leaked to the Young Turks by an Armenian agent spying for the Turkish government. Hundreds of party members were arrested and tortured for many months. When the mock trial began, however, the number of those accused was 23 including 2 who were tried in absentia.
On the morning of June 15, 1915 before dusk, all twenty men were hanged in Sultan Bayazid Square; the central square of Constantinople. The destiny of the Twenty Martyrs was intertwined with the destiny of the Armenian nation. They knew what was coming and sounded the alarm but they were betrayed by a fellow Armenian.