PASADENA — On Sunday, July 15, the Commemoration of the 103rd anniversary of the 20 Hunchakian Gallows was held in Pasadena Ca.

The event organized by the SDHP “Paramaz” chapter of Pasadena took place at the Giragos Hall of the St. Gregory Armenian Church.

Among the attendees and guest were Primate of the Western Diocese, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Arch. Vatch Hovsepian, members of the Central Committee of the SDHP and the Executive Body of USA, the chairman and members of the Regional Committee of the Liberal Democratic Ramgavar Party, representatives of AGBU, chairman of the Istanbul-Armenian Union, Armenian media representatives and large number of party members and supporters.

The evening started with the national anthems of the United States and the Republic of Armenia and the anthem of SDHP. After master of ceremony Mrs. Taguhi Arzumanyan’s emotional opening, remarks were delivered by the “Paramaz” chapter chairman Diran Jerejian.

A message in English was delivered by “Gaidz” Youth Organization and Armenian Council of America member Vahan Khodanian.

The main speaker of the day was member of the SDHP Central Committee Giragos Tutunjian, who was invited from Canada. In his comprehensive speech, he made an assessment of the activities of the Hunchakian Twenty’s in pursuit of their goal of establishing a free and democratic Armenia. The speaker stated that few short years later, their goal became a reality at the battlefields of Sardarabad, which was followed by the establishment of the first Armenian Republic,

Mr. Tutunjian greeted the victory of the People’s Revolution in Armenia, touching upon the participation of the SDHP in the movement. He expressed the party’s support for the current leadership of Armenia and its readiness to work with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government in pursuit of social, economic and political reforms in the homeland.

Archbishop Derderian in his short remarks blessed the 20 Gallows and their followers.

During the evening, an artistic program was presented with the participation of the ‘Nor Serount” Cultural Association dance group, Taguhi Arzumanyan, who recited a poem written by her on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, well known singers Harut Hakobian, Araxia Amirkhanyan and Arno Mkrtchian who all performed national and patriotic songs.

The celebration was closed in an enthusiastic atmosphere, with the singing of “Hunchakian Enk Menk”.

Vahan Khodanian’s Speech at the Commemoration Of The Hunchakian Twenty Gallows

Today we remember the martyrdom of 20 Hunchakian intellectuals who were hanged on June 15, 1915 in the Sultan Bayazit square of Istanbul. The tragic story of these 20 men and their sacrifice remains very much alive in the collective memory of the Armenian nation today.

Why have progressive Turks, Kurds, Armenians, and others in present day Turkey made it a point to honor these individuals? What is the reason that we are here commemorating the martyrdom of these individuals who were technically sentenced to death 3 weeks after that fateful night on April 24, 1915?

Because had these individuals not been arrested, had they been able to implement any portion of their plan, the outcomes of 1915 might have been very different.

The destiny of the Twenty Martyrs was intertwined with the destiny of their nation. They 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. They knew what was coming and sounded the alarm, but they were betrayed by a fellow Armenian.

Yet, they believed that an independent Armenia would be born from the ashes. And history has proved them right.
Over the past decades, the Twenty Martyrs have been a source of inspiration for thousands of Armenians and non-Armenians who believe in the welfare of all people. The Armenian Council of America is a prime example of that inspiration and champions the causes and concerns of the Armenian-American community within local, state, and federal governments. Just a few years ago, through ACA’s undertaking, the Armenian American community was able to gain a historic win with the recognition of Artsakh by the State of California.

And this year’s commemoration has a special meaning, as we have witnessed the victory of the Armenian people with the leadership of the Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinian in overthrowing the former corrupt government, and establishing a new Armenia where the rule of law will prevail, free and fair elections will be the norm, and people will have equal opportunity in public life. The first steps taken by the new government give us hope that the future of Armenia will be bright and prosperous.

The youth of Armenia played a major role in the success of the Velvet Revolution. By utilizing social media and modern technologies, they were able to mobilize the entire population and a new page was opened in the history of the Armenian Nation. The youth of the diaspora are called upon to connect with their brothers and sisters in the home land to work together to fulfill these goals and to ensure that progress is maintained for the coming generations.

Meanwhile, the struggle must go on, until the Turkish government joins those within Turkey, who have confronted their nation’s historical past, to look inward and recognize the terrible deeds of their predecessors.

We are so proud the Kurdish fighters in their struggle against the Turkish forces are adopting the name Paramaz as their battlefield name.

We are so proud that in today’s Turkey books are being published and films are being made about the Twenty Gallows.

Turkish intellectual Kadir Akin’s new documentary is currently being screened in European capital and in Turkey. Just recently, the documentary was also shown in the only Armenian village left in Mousa Ler, the Vakef village with its 300 inhabitants.

Turkey must come to terms with its dark past, for the sake of its collective conscience in order to foster a better future – A future that these Twenty Martyrs wanted for both Armenia, and Turkey.

After all, the aim of the 20 Hunchakian Martyrs was to establish a free and democratic Armenia and today’s Armenian Republic gives us hope that their goal is being fulfilled.

Thus, that is why we commemorate the martyrdom of these twenty intellectuals!

And that is why we are here and why we continue their fight – the fight for justice!

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