An event dedicated to the Armenian Genocide was held a few days ago in the US Congress building of Washington. It was organized by the Armenian Assembly of America, the Congressional Caucus on Armenian issues, the Armenian Embassy in USA, Representative of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh and the Armenian National Committee In America. A number of American congressmen, Heads of the Armenian Community and Armenian organizations, as well as diplomats attended the Event.
Hayk Demoyan, the Director of AGMI stressed the importance of maintaining the history or the Armenian Genocide in his speech.
“Commitment of Preventing Genocide is a constant anxiety, and it is very important for Armenians, that America share our values to confront the threat of violations of human rights,” mentioned AGMI director.
Hayk Demoyan also spoke about Armenian-American diplomatic relations during twenty five years of independence, and mentioned that the first Armenian came to USA about 400 years ago, and he was called like that; Armenian Mardin.
The speech of Hayk Demoyan, the director of AGMI, is presented below.
Members of Congress, Reverend Clergy, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a distinct honor for me to be asked to speak today. I have been the director of the Armenian Genocide Museum in Yerevan, Armenia for the past ten (10) years. The Genocide Museum is also responsible for the great memorial complex of Tsitsernakaberd where every April 24, over one million citizens of Armenia make an annual pilgrimage to remember the one and half million victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Therefore, in my capacity as director of the entire complex, I have the privilege of hosting all the official delegations visiting Armenia, including the high level diplomatic missions to Yerevan, including the presidents, prime ministers, and the parliamentary speakers of numerous countries from around the globe.
Even so, I am always deeply moved when I see the American Embassy staff join the delegations from all other countries represented in Yerevan to honor the memory of the Armenian Genocide. Every American ambassador assigned to Armenia has paid his respects. AGMI developed also fruitful cooperation with American embassy, not only to host US delegations but also in organization of memorial events. We had memorable Clara Barton and Henry Morgenthau events within last few years.
The commitment to prevent genocide is a constant concern, and to know that the United States shares our values in confronting the threat of gross human rights violations is of vital importance to the people of Armenia.
The American Embassy in Yerevan has worked closely with the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, and I am pleased to share together we organized events in honor of Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, who pioneered American aid to the victims of the Armenian Massacres of the 1890s, and in honor of Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, when many of his descendants gathered in Yerevan for the Centennial.
I am certain that the ambassador of Armenia to Washington has thanked the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues many times. This is an opportunity for me also to join him in thanking especially those members of Congress who support the cause of affirming the Armenian Genocide. I deeply appreciate their commitment to doing so.
Whether it is the annual statement of the president of the United States issued on Armenian memorial day, or the floor statements made by Congressmen and Senators each April, these are important reminders that the problem of genocide continues to haunt humankind and that remembrance is a form of prevention. To forget the past, to deny the facts, to distort history, are all methods of burying the crimes committed against humanity, and by so doing providing excuses for the repetition of such crimes.
Today a new museum building opened for the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide contains a compelling exhibit that traces the events leading up to the deportations and massacres of 1915. It depicts the repeated failure of the international community to act decisively. There is a lesson in that terrible example. Early warnings must be taken seriously. Ignoring or dismissing small crimes only paves the road to greater crimes and larger numbers of victims.
Our museum also pays tribute to the many humanitarians from all across the world who came to the rescue of the Armenians. You are all aware of the importance of the American Near East Relief organization. We in Armenia also remember well the importance of this organization. After all the largest orphanage in the world at the time was created by Near East Relief in my country, in my hometown of Gyumri, called Alexandrapol at the time.
Now one hundred and two years after the genocide, the Armenian people continue to face the long-lasting consequences of that terrible event. In recent years we have seen the destruction of the Armenian community in Syria, especially Aleppo. The Aleppo community was created by the refugees and survivors of the Armenian Genocide after they were denied the right to return to their homes in Turkey. Now they are refugees again because of the Syrian civil war. Mercifully, for many, there is now an Armenian homeland where they can find shelter and receive a welcome.
Armenia has also welcomed others who have faced persecution in their own country. The United States labeled the cruel treatment of the Yazidis, by the barbaric forces of the so-called Islamic States, a genocide. Many of them who have fled Iraq are now living in safety in Armenia.
Because of tragic developments like the Syrian situation, we are constantly reminded of the Armenian Genocide. For this very reason it is crucial that the people of Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, also be protected from the threat of violence. They are fully aware of the risks they face if they do not defend themselves. It is vital that another repetition of the Armenian Genocide be avoided. We are counting on the good offices of the United States, through its OSCE Minsk Group co-chair, to bring the conflict to a negotiated settlement that will prevent the further loss of life.
Thank you again for the special privilege of speaking in the United States Congress. I thank the organizers of this Capitol Hill commemoration and express my deep respect for the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues for their commitment and friendship toward the people of Armenia. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and Armenia. Armenians have been arriving on American shores for a long time. Next year, 2018, will be the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Armenian, known as Martin the Armenian, to America, to the state of Virginia. I am looking forward to marking that important milestone in the history of the Armenian and American peoples together.