April of 2015 was historic, with Armenians all around the world marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide with commemoration ceremonies and events. The events organized in Armenia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide were coordinated by a special committee headed by Vigen Sargsyan, Chief of staff of the RA President’s Office. From April 21-25, a number of events were organized in Armenia, from which the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) played an important part.

Commemoration Ceremony at Tsitsernakaberd

Official delegations from 60 countries, including 4 presidents arrived in Armenia to participate in the events organized as part of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of France Francois Hollande, President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic and President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades also arrived in Armenia to participate in the events. The official delegates arrived in Armenia, were present at the Tsitsernakabert Memorial to honor the victims of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2015. During the ceremony, the RA President Serzh Sargsyan spoke about the criminal hazards caused by the denial of the Armenian Genocide. He thanked all the people, countries, international organizations who assisted survivors of the Armenian Genocide, as well as joined the struggle of the Armenian people in the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide. Speeches were also made by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and the Presidents of four countries who arrived in Armenia to participate in the commemorating events. Esther Mujawayo, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, read the announcement of the Global Forum, entitled “Against Genocide Crime” to the heads of the countries at the Tsitsernakaberd Hill. On April 24th, the Presidents of the Russian federation, France, Serbia and Cyprus visited the Armenian Genocide-Museum. The leaders of the four countries walked through the museum, and walked through the new permanent exhibition. At the end of their informative visit they made a note in the Honorary Guests’ Book.

Against the Crime of Genocide

On April 22-23, 2015 more than 500 delegates from around the world took part in the Against the Crime of Genocide forum at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex in Yerevan. Delegates included representatives of various countries and international institutions, scholars and historians, political, social and religious figures, journalists, editors of central news agencies from nearly fifty countries, among them were Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Daniel Feierstein, President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, Baroness Caroline Cox, Nikolai Ryzhkov, member of the Russian Federal Council. An opening speech was made by the RA President Serzh Sargsyan. The forum served as a platform for discussion about the Armenian Genocide, as well as other Genocides. An AGBU delegation was also present at the forum headed by AGBU President Berge Setrakian.

Wake up the Souls:

“This is not a rock concert, this is our revenge”

The concert dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was accompanied with heavy rain. But even the terrible weather could not dampen the spirits of their fans from Armenia and abroad who clouded into the square for this once in a lifetime opportunity to see the band in Concert in Armenia. The concert began with these profound words by lead guitarist and second vocalist Daron Malakian “This is not a rock concert, this is our revenge” saw the crowd roar their approval and uplift the mood in Republic Square and showed the world that even a century after the Genocide we are alive, we will continue to thrive and celebrate our victories untied young and old, local and diasporan standing shoulder to shoulder in torrential rain as a symbol of our unity and strength. In his interview with the Times newspaper Serj Tankian mentioned that the “Wake up the Souls” concert tours had one aim, which was to draw everyone’s attention towards the subject of Genocide and justice. It was a great show, probably the most impressive one, which we have ever had. Before going on a stage I was thinking about our ancestors”. The group started the Wake up the Souls concert tours on April 6, 2015. The first concert was organized in Los Angeles; followed by Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Russia. Raising awareness of the Armenian Genocide has always been important to the members of System of a Down.

100 Years of Remembrance

On April 21st, a Concert, entitled 100 Years of Remembrance dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was broadcasted live at the National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Yerevan from Chatelet Theatre, Paris. World Armenian Orchestra consisting of Armenian musicians from the world’s most famous orchestras and conducted by French-Armenian Alain Altinoghlu performed for the first time during this Concert. Participants included Gulbenkian choir, renowned soprano Hasmik Papian, mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch, tenor Liparit Avetissian, bass Tigran Martirossian, Vahan Martirosyan, Jean-Mark Philips Varzhapetian, Xavier Philips. The concert program featured pieces by Armenian composers including Komitas and Aram Khachaturyan and a symphony, specially written to honor the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide by a French-Armenian composer Michel Petrossian, the winner of the 2012 Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition. At the end of the concert Mozart’s requiem was performed. The Concert was organized by AGBU Europe Chapter and was held under the high patronage of the Presidents of France and Armenia.

“24/04” World Orchestra’s Revival Concert in Yerevan

On April 24th, at 20:15p.m. another unforgettable musical evening was held at the National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Yerevan. 123 musicians from 43 different countries joined forces as one orchestra to once again remind the world of the Armenian Genocide with a concert, entitled Revival. 24/04 orchestra consisted of musicians from Armenia, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dania, Ecuador, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iran, Tunis, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uzbekistan. Violinist Sergey Khachatryan, winner of various international competitions, the youngest laureate in the history of Jean Sibelius International Competition and the winner of Queen Elizabeth International Competition; cellist Narek Hakhnazar-yan, laureate of Gyeongnam international music competition of Korea, Tchaikovsky International Competition, Johansen International Competition of Young Performers (USA), and Aram Khachaturyan International Competition, and renowned duduk player Jivan Gasparyan were some of the solo performers of the evening as well as RA Meritorious Artist, baritone Gevorg Hakobyan and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and one of the best loved sopranos Maria Guleghina. The orchestra performed pieces by Armenian Composers from the last 100 years, pieces by Aram Khachaturyan, Edgar Hovhannisyan, Ghazaros Saryan, Alexander Harutyunyan, Makar Yekmalyan, Avet Terteryan, Eduard Mirzoyan were performed during the four-part concert. The concert was conducted by Sergey Smbatyan, Hovhannes Chekijyan, Gianluca Marciano and Mikhail Yurovsky.

Torchlight Procession

On April 24th, thousands of young people, representatives of various political parties, social organizations and student unions as well as others of various backgrounds and ages joined the traditional march with flames from Republic Square to Tsitsernakabert Hill dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Before starting the March participants honored the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide with a minute’s silence and expressed their resentment against the denial policy carried out by a number of countries. This was the 16th March with flames held in Yerevan. A number of events are also planned for the future, such as the Yerevan Biennial Meeting of International Association of Genocide Scholars, which will host over 300 participants from all over the world.