A twist of History: Giving Back in the memory of Genocide by Vahagn Khachatryan

Every year, on April 24, Armenians raise the question of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The typical day in the media usually looks like a 24-hour history class, focusing on the progression of events and facts of the Armenian Genocide. Most TV channels show black and white footage of the events and bring historians to unpack the facts and discuss the details. Flash-mobs, protests, and other activities are usually organized in Yerevan and many other cities abroad with Armenian communities. The idea is to make the discussion global and show other nations what truly happened a century ago. However, for the past 100 years, this method of demanding justice did not bear much fruit.

Focusing on the past can only get us this far: it is finally time to raise our heads and look ahead. Which is exactly what happened in 2016. On the 101st “anniversary” of the Armenian Genocide, the AURORA project launched, dedicating this day of traditional grief and hatred to the celebration of humanity’s peaceful future. And suddenly, the usual sad feeling of the Genocide remembrance day turns into an unusually pleasant feeling of joy.

The AURORA prize for awakening humanity, as you may already know, is an award that is presented to an individual who sacrificed his or her life to helping others and bringing peace to their communities and countries. As mentioned in their website, “On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors,” the prize encourages and celebrates humanitarian activities.

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Photo by: 100 LIVES

The award drew the attention of people all over the world, as global peace is a cause which many support and believe in.  Besides, who doesn’t like witnessing people with encouraging stories being valued and celebrated? In the past, April 24 was only about the Armenian Genocide: it was OUR historical truth, OUR demand of justice, OUR national tragedy. But now, it is more than a self-centered cause and is about the world: now, it concerns every individual on this planet, and it extends and redefines the notion of peace, making it the responsibility of every human.

For the first time in Armenia, people of color are at the center of the show. Usually, there is not much representation of different races, as Armenia is a monoethnic country. Nonetheless, racial equality is starting to become visible in mass scales. In this aspect, AURORA was a first-time experience. Looking at the four nominees for the award proves that race, status, nationality, or financial security does not matter. It is our actions, our devotion, hard work, and our love towards others that ultimately defines who we are. The biggest lesson learned from this event is to put aside all our differences and share our love and caring with others by volunteering our time, knowledge and resources to make planet Earth a better place for tomorrow.

Vahagn Khachatryan

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