The Speech of the Representative of the Christian Endeavor Union at the Night Vigil of the Centennial Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

It's the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Furthermore, it's the centennial of the shameful crime of the Ottoman government and the continuous denial by the consecutive governments of Turkey, which to this day fabricates lies and plays political games to cover up and distort the truth of the Armenian Genocide.

Exacerbating the pain of the genocide, this year Turkey has decided to commemorate the Gallipoli anniversary on April 24, the same day the Armenian intellectuals were imprisoned and sent to their death.

More than one and a half million innocent lives were put to death, by starvation, deportation, rape, brutal killing and murder. The Armenians were suddenly uprooted from their fatherland and ancestral lands, and sent to the Syrian desert to perish and die. They were left without food, without water, without shelter. Many children, whose parents died during the genocide, became orphans and were deprived of their natural upbringing and parental care. The whole experience shook the remnants of the Armenian nation. Our fathers and mothers struggled for livelihood, for survival, for bread and water, trying to recover their sanity, dignity and humanity. They survived and then started rebuilding their lives in Lebanon and Syria.

Our fathers and mothers came to live in new countries and new lands, whose languages they did not speak. They toiled and labored night and day, putting their skills and talents to the benefit of their hosting countries. They built new houses, new churches, new schools and communal organizations. Together, the Armenians looked to the future, to a better future. They educated themselves and rose to the challenges that the new circumstances brought. Today, the Armenians all around the world are educated, successful men and women. Today, the Armenians are looking at the Genocide not only with sorrow and anguish. No, the Armenian youth today look back and demand retribution and compensation from Turkey, before the whole International community.

We demand from the Turkish government compensation for the losses of the Armenian Genocide, both financially and morally. The Armenian monasteries and churches, schools and houses, cultural and economic centers, community and private lands were converted into animal places, military posts and prisons, and modern Turkey was built on the confiscated wealth and lands of the Armenians. We

demand that Turkey return the public and private lands and properties back to the legal owners, the Armenians.

The Western civilized countries, concerned only about their political gain, stood by and only watched the complete annihilation of an ancient civilization and a prosperous nation. But we weren't completely left alone, during these horrible crimes against humanity. Many did reach out to us, leaving their safe countries, to come to our aid, to live with us in our perilous conditions, to endure pain and humiliation with us, and to even die with us. Missionaries, nurses, doctors, teachers, professors, social workers, pastors helped alleviate our conditions and became our Good Samaritans. We hold these noble men and women with high regard and we praise God for their worthy deeds. They became fathers and mothers to the Armenian orphans and sisters and brothers to the Armenian people.

Last month, Mr. Robert Fisk, the well-known British journalist, asked what the Armenians would do on the 101st and 102nd anniversaries. Well Mr. Fisk, the Armenians will remember and demand, they will remember and demand, they will remember and demand.

Armenians all over the world have gathered tonight. We've always remembered what happened to us. But the centennial marks a new era, an era of transferring the Armenian Genocide from the platform of recognition to the platform of legal framework.

Next year is the 101st anniversary. We will gather again, reminding Turkey to face up to its crimes against humanity. We will stand united and we will ask the world communities, organizations, and governments to stand with us against the continuous denial of the Armenian Genocide.

We will continue to remember and we will continue to demand.

Raffi Chilingirian,
Representative of
the Christian Endeavor Union's Executive Body of the Armenian Evangelical Churches
in the Armenian Genocide Centennial Youth Body of Lebanon