“At the time, our situation was very well understood by the Hunchakians, but we did not agree with that, and today our lives are testament that their path was the right one.”
PATRIARCH ZAVEN of CONSTANTINOPLE
On June 15, 1915, 20 members of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party were hanged on the Sultan Bayazit Square in Istanbul, charged with attempting to assassinate the Young Turks government leaders. Their fate was marked with the fate of other Armenian intellectuals and activists who were arrested and taken to unknown faith on April 24, 1915, signaling the beginning of the Armenian Genocide and the massacre of millions of our people.
The distinctive place and the importance of “The Twenty” in the history of our nation lies in the fact that they predicted the Armenian Genocide and tried to prevent it, but their plan failed because of an informant. Unfortunately, Armenian politicians, church leaders and conservative circles in Constantinople, were indifferent and skeptical about their warnings. These elements did not want to believe that the Young Turks, who came to power in the name of universal human rights, could pursue the goal of destroying the Armenian nation and deporting them from their ancestral homeland. The time has proven that these so called leaders were wrong, and “The Twenty” were right. The fate of Western Armenians would have been much different if they had succeeded in putting their plans into action.
“You hang twenty of us, but twenty thousands will continue our mission”, “Tomorrow, we will welcome the revival of Armenia on the eastern horizon”. These were some of the last words spoken by the martyrs on the gallows. These words also reflected their vision about the salvation of the Armenian people and with that “The Twenty” became immortal in the history of the Hunchakian Party and our nation.
Over the years, the memory of “The Twenty” has been kept alive through writings, poems, national songs, publications, monuments and public events, dedicated to them, in Armenia and the diaspora. In 2013, for the first time ever, their memory was commemorated in Istanbul, where a group of progressive Turkish intellectuals gathered at the same square where they were hanged and held a memorial event. Since then, many books have been published in Turkish about the eminence of those martyrs and their leader, Matheos Sarkissian, the son of Meghri, better known as Paramaz. A documentary produced by the Turkish intellectual Kadir Akin is being screened in European capitals, in Turkey and shortly in North America
Today’s Armenian Republic is the partial realization of “The Twenty” dream and aspiration. With the success of the people’s revolution a year ago, a new and more promising milestone was achieved and a new chapter opened in Armenia, where democracy and freedoms were enshrined as main objectives. It remains that social justice and equality for all, will be established, and the socialist ideals that “The Twenty” believed in, will be implemented in our homeland.
104 years after the martyrdom of “The Twenty”, the recognition of the Genocide by Turkey, the compensation for the blood and lost lands remain an ultimate goals for all of us, and we are confident that these aspirations will be fulfilled, sooner or later.
On this occasion, we remember and respect the memory of the Twenty Hunchakian heroes and all our martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the survival of the Armenian Nation.