In what is now an annual remembrance ceremony, Armenian-Americans, friends of the community, and elected officials from across the state came together at the Georgia State Capitol on April 24 to honor the innocent victims and commemorate the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. The mistress of ceremonies for the event was Dr. Vardoui Agasarkisian-Jinian representing the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Georgia.
Former Congressman and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young opened the ceremony with an invocation. He then delivered the welcoming remarks. Young spoke about the importance of remembering past genocides—particularly the Armenian Genocide.
Congressmen John Lewis and Hank Johnson, Superior Court Chief Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore, and former Mayor of Atlanta Bill Campbell also delivered remarks about the importance of remembering the Armenian Genocide, and the duty to prevent such crimes from taking place in the future.
Lewis extended his deepest sympathy to the Armenian community. “Today, people all over the world will stop and remember the 1.5 million Armenians killed between 1915 and 1923. I applaud your dedication to preserving the memory of those who lost their lives,” said Lewis.
In her remarks, Judge Cummings Moore spoke about the Armenian community and the community’s political involvement in Atlanta. She stressed the importance for the U.S. government to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide in order to ensure that such atrocities never happen again.
Congressman Hank Johnson stressed the importance of remembrance and historical justice, Johnson noted, “As we mark the 100th anniversary of these terrible atrocities, let us remember those who have come before us, and not forget their suffering. Remembering these tragic events helps our society advance the cause of human rights.”
Emory University Professor Dr. Julieta Stepanyan-Abgaryan delivered moving remarks. She discussed her life in Soviet Armenia, and the independence movement. She also touched upon the stories of her family members, survivors of the genocide.
Chairman of the American Armenian Association Dr. Sarkis Agasarkisian discussed current congressional efforts to attain U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the importance of international recognition of Artsakh’s independence.
“…Many Turkish scholars—at the face of death threats and criminal prosecution—are calling upon their government to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. Until the U.S. recognizes the Armenian Genocide, Turkey will keep denying it,” said Agasarkisian.
He also touched upon the importance of recognizing the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, Artsakh, “We need to have an understanding about the historical realities and call upon the U.S. government to formally recognize the independence of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic. Artsakh is part of historic Armenia; it was arbitrarily carved out of it and placed under Soviet Azerbaijan. However, it has never been part of an independent Azerbaijani state,” he concluded.
Noah Mushegian read the Atlanta City Council Proclamation, which designates April 24, 2015 as the day to honor the “100th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.”
Georgia State Representative Mable Thomas read resolutions on Nagorno Karabagh and the Armenian Genocide. Janett Mushagian read the Georgia Governor’s letter to the Armenian community.
Former Mayor of Atlanta Bill Campbell, who was the first city mayor to issue an Armenian Genocide proclamation, praised the activism of the Armenian community of Atlanta. He noted the importance of condemning all genocides. Campbell read the latest proclamation of current Mayor Kasim Reed, which states, “As you assemble to commemorate this tragic occurrence, I salute the Armenian community for all that you do to advance human rights and cultural understanding.”
The memorable ceremony concluded with Mushegian’s benediction, followed by Ruzanna Pogosian’s a capella performance of “Kelle Lao.” Dr. Vardoui Agasarkisian-Jinian thanked the attendees, particularly Aroutioun Agasarkisian and Sarkis Agasarkisian, who fist initiated the annual remembrance ceremony in the State of Georgia.