This year the commemoration days for the Jewish Holocaust and Armenian Genocide fall on the same day, April 24. To mark this occasion, AUA has organized a joint commemoration program on Wednesday, April 12. The program will include presentations by AUA Visiting Prof. Yair Auron and AUA Lecturer Suren Manukyan, and moderated by visiting journalist-in-residence Thomas Gorguissian.
The president of the Jewish Community of Armenia, Rimma Varzhapetyan-Feller, gives a few words in Russian to kick-off the event. She states that the issue of Genocide is also an issue of diplomacy. She is happy to see that in Armenia Jewish people are able to live safely and comfortably.
Thomas Gorguissian, the event moderator, says the memory of Genocide is still very much alive in our minds. “Today, we are here to commemorate. Commemorate means to remember and to remind in Armenian. Never again in Hebrew. By saying this, we mean that what happened to Armenians and the Jew will never again happen, anywhere, anytime.”
Gorguissian proudly says, “here I am. The son of an Armenian Genocide survivor. Here I am. Remembering. Never forgetting.”
A short performance clip of the composer William Weiner, a Jew born in Armenia, is being played.
Deputy Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute and an AUA lecturer, Suren Manukyan, comments about the “argument with the youth about why are we still talking about the Genocide after 100 years.” He says survivors might find some relief by commemoration. For him, a genocide is a struggle of memory and emotion.
Manukyan responds to Adolf Hitler about his question about who now, is speaking of the Armenian Annihilation. Manukyan says “we do Adolf. We do.”
“We stand in the face of genocide denial, no matter what country was the victim, for our children, for education, for recognition.”
Yair Auron, a visiting professor of Genocide Studies at AUA, introduces a Jew poet who was born in Armenia. Nare Hovanissyan, an AUA student, reads one of his poetry.
Auron introduces future projects of an event similar to this event in Jerusalem next week. A few Jew students will be visiting Armenia and living in the Armenian community.
Auron says Holocaust and Genocide are two different things. “I have to say shamefully, that we (Jews) have suffered more, or so people say. No one should measure human suffering.”
“Genocide is happening. Right now. People are being killed now because they belong to a certain group,” Auron comments.
Auron is proud of AUA to have a course about Genocide Studies to inform and teach the youth about the issue of genocides. He also suggests having an NGO that focuses on being the third part in a Genocide. He further explains, “there will always be people killing each other, trying to kill ethnic groups. But it is up to this third party to put a stop to genocides.”
He concludes with summarizing the story of the Aznavour family and how they had saved Jews by hiding them in their home. “If you are not with the victim you are with the perpetrator.”
The event is concluded by Artur Avanesov performing three pieces. Two by Komitas Lele Yaman and Akhmayoja and a solo piece by Weiner.
– Merry Artinian