24 April is the day to remember the genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against the people of Armenia. There is a very good piece on Armenia, with information about the country and its history here in the New York Review of Books. After the US and Russia, France is home to the third highest number of Armenians outside the country. As well as in Strasbourg there were events to commemorate the Armenian Genocide in many towns and cities in France, including a large rally in Paris attended by both the Presidential candidates.
In Strasbourg a group of people including; municipal councillors, the Armenian Representative to the Council of Europe, an Armenian parliamentarian who is a representative to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, priests and representatives of different religions and peoples, formed up near the Palais du Rhin and walked, behind a banner saying “No to genocide” to the Monument to the Fallen in the centre of the Place de la République.(first picture)
The crowd listened to three people talk about the genocide in Armenia listing places where particular events happened during the genocide at the end of the 19th century and between 1915-16.(second picture) At different stages during this people walked up and placed flowers at the base of the monument. First it was the Armenian Representative to the Council of Europe, Mr. Armen Papikian, and the Armenian parliamentarian, Ms Hermine Naghdalyan, then the second group featured the three municipal councillors, Robert Herrmann; 1er Adjoint to the Mayor – Coordination municipale et démocratie locale, conseil des jeunes – Adjoint de Strasbourg centre, (left) Jean-Jacques Gsell; Adjoint du quartier Gare, du tourisme, du commerce et de l’artisanat (right) and Henri Dreyfus. I did not catch the names of the last two people (pictured) placing flowers at the monument.
There were also short speeches including one from a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda who talked about her experience of genocide denial, where an MEP said that there were only 2 or 3 people killed in her village when she lost more than three members of her own family. We heard from the Armenian Representative and then from a representative of the Kurd community in Strasbourg who apologised to the Armenian people present for the Kurdish people’s participation in the genocide; there was a Kurdish battalion established specifically to carry out the genocide.
We finished up having a prayer from an Armenian Orthodox priest followed by the Priest in Charge, Father Harold Nahabedian, from St Albans Anglican Church in Strasbourg who is from Canada of Armenian heritage.
At the end of the remembrance the crowd dispersed and JTO and I left for to introduce her to a, for her, up to now unexplored Irish Pub where we had some fine food and I, of course, had a drop of the black stuff.
N.B. The headline comes from a question Hitler posed when questioned about the holocaust. His reply was “Who remembers the Armenians?“