A march to remember: 60 attend annual recognition of the Armenian genocide that killed 1.5M

Published: 04-24-2017 10:25 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Wearing black and holding Armenian flags, about 60 people silently marched through downtown to Memorial Hall Monday afternoon in recognition of the Armenian genocide that some fear has gone unnoticed throughout much of the world for more than a century.

Monday’s march was meant to symbolize death marches that began in 1915 by Ottoman Turks. Massacres, deportations and marches took the lives of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I.

Gina Ayvazian has been organizing the commemorations in Northampton for 17 years, along with her sister Andrea Ayvazian. She first started planning the gatherings because she noticed that many sitting U.S. presidents do not recognize the genocide due to relations with Turkey.

“It’s just so painful,” Gina Ayvazian said. “Unrecognized genocide is a successful genocide.”

President Donald Trump has not used the word “genocide” to describe the killings and neither did Barack Obama while he was in office. Armené Margosian said she considers the gathering an “observation of a part of history that didn’t get observed.”

In a speech, she told the story of her grandparents, who spent time in refugee camps as children in Aleppo, Syria in the 1920s.

Margosian’s grandparents lived in Chemishkezek. Their village was one of the last to be raided and many did not survive.

“It’s nothing short of a miracle that I stand before you today,” Margosian said in her speech.

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“We survive but without validation for our experience. We cannot heal until we receive this international validation,” she continued.

The gathering featured singing of the Armenian national anthem, and the crowd sang the Lord’s Prayer in Armenian. At the end, they chanted, “We will not forget.”

“I love seeing the Armenian flags and hearing the Armenian language,” Gina Ayvazian said.

Donations were collected for the Armenian General Benevolent Union’s Armenian-Syrian Refugee Relief fund.

“Our empathy leads us to tap into our humanity leading love to win over hate,” Margosian said as she closed her speech.