The Bay State's Armenian community will fill the State House on Friday, April 20 for the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
This year's cermony will take place at 10:30 a.m. The event is both solemn and celebratory, recognizing the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 by the Ottoman Turkish government, as well as honoring survivors and looking forward as Armenian American descendants commit themselves to preserving their culture and working for humanitarian projects and awareness, according to a press release from State Sen. Will Brownsberger's office.
Buses to the State House will leave at 9 a.m. from and in Watertown. The bus service is donated by the Knights of Vartan, Ararat Lodge No. 1, and is free. Buses will leave the State House at 1:30 p.m.
Khatchig Mouradian, a journalist, writer and translator, will deliver the keynote address. Mouradian is the editor of the Armenian Weekly newspaper; the Program Coordinator of Rutgers University Center of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights; and a PhD candidate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University.
Joint House/Senate Resolutions will be awarded to local playwright and lecturer Joyce Van Dyke, whose recent play Deported/A Dream Play is the story of her own grandmother, and to former state Senator Steven Tolman, according to Brownsberger's office. Performers include students of the Armenian Sisters Academy and , and Haig Hovsepian on violin accompanied by Ani Hovsepian.
“This is my 12th year participating in this program,” said Tsoleen Sarian, who is chairing and coordinating the organizing committee. "This event honors my grandparents and all survivors by calling out human rights atrocities for those who don't have a voice. We also recognize the many generations who contribute to society and our local communities here in Massachusetts."
Sarian works closely with state Rep. Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown), state Rep. John Lawn (D-Watertown) and state Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) who host the day.
“Massachusetts should be proud that we set aside a day each year at the State House to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” said Rep. Hecht. “Many people may not be aware that the U.S. Congress has yet to recognize formally this genocide, though there are renewed and ongoing bipartisan efforts to pass a resolution in Washington, and many in our local community – both Armenians and non-Armenians – are working towards that end.”
“The energy put into this event demonstrates the devotion of the entire Armenian American community, and the many friends of that community, to the commemoration and recognition of the genocide,” said Brownsberger.
“Watching youth perform at the commemoration is particularly enjoyable,” said Lawn. “It’s also symbolic of the commitment by Armenian Americans to pass on their culture - whether it be language, music, song, or dance, and to teach children about their history and the importance of human rights.”
A reception will follow the program. The late Speaker George Keverian began the annual commemoration at the State House in 1985.