Belmont Board of Selectmen Issue Genocide Proclamation


Jirair Hovsepian reads his statement at the

By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

BELMONT, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen here read a proclamation into the official record at their April 25 meeting, in which they commemorated the Armenian Genocide.

Several local Armenian-Americans attended the meeting at Belmont High School’s auditorium.

Selectmen Chairman Ralph T. Jones read the proclamation: “Whereas the month of April commemorates the tragic history of the Armenian Genocide of 1915; and whereas over one-and-one-half million Armenians were killed or uprooted from their homeland during this horrible event; and whereas the Genocide represents an atrocity against humanity which we must be continually reminded of; and whereas surviving

Armenians have relocated around the world to begin new and productive lives; and whereas a significant and proud population of people with Armenian heritage make their home in Belmont, Massachusetts,” the board recalls “the Armenian Genocide to remind society of this tragic event in the course of human events.”

The resolution was brought about thanks to a core group of residents, led by Jirair Hovsepian. Hovsepian, a Town Meeting member, read a statement into the record giving a brief history of the Genocide and the plight of the survivors and quest for reparations.

“It was 96 years ago on April 24, 1915 that the Turkish Ottoman government, premeditatedly and systematically began the genocide of the Armenian population on their native land of several millennia. It was orchestrated by Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha and Jemal Pasha, who ruled the Ottoman Empire and were the masterminds of this policy of extermination of the Armenians,” he said.

He added, “It is known that today there is an Armenian apostate population in Turkey, whose ancestors accepted Islam rather than death or were converted when very young. This is another form of genocide, as stated during the recent lecture in Belmont by Dr. Taner Akçam,” he said. “One of the Genocide survivors

and a former pastor of the First Armenian Church of Belmont, Rev. Vartan Hartunian, said in an interview, ‘The world is going through hell. Armenians have gone through hell and they know how to deal with it. Our story has to be known and when our story is known, it will help the world not only to minimize such tragedies, but maybe obviate them.”

He then went into modern history, suggesting that Turkey, which espousing a Westernstyle democracy, still has laws such as Article 301 of its Penal Code, which makes punishable any denigration of Turkish history, including suggesting that a genocide had been committed. He also said that Turkey is currently subjugating its Kurdish citizens.

“We, as descendents of Armenian Genocide victims, believe that injustice done to our nation was not merely the genocide itself, but compounding and prolonging its denial for almost a century. It is a shame that in the 21st century, when atrocities of dictators and governments in Rwanda, Darfur and elsewhere are acknowledged and condemned, while the Armenian Genocide is still denied by the Turkish government.”

Finally, the Rev. Gregory Harutunian of the First Armenian Church offered a prayer in which he thanked God for the Armenians’ faith and courage.