On Monday, April 25, 2011, Haigazian University commemorated the 96th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide through poetry, narrative and music at the First Armenian Evangelical Church in Kantari, Beirut.
Among the official attendees were: Rev. Megrdich Karagoezian, the president of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East; University President, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, Minister Jean Oghasabian, members of the Lebanese Parliament Sebouh Kalpakian, Arthur Nazarian, Shant Chinchinian, Dr. Bassem Shabb, former MPs Souren Khanamirian and Dr. Nourijan Demirjian, Director General of the Ministry of Environment Dr. Berj Hadjian, Mrs. Noura Joumblatt representing MP Walid Joumblat, the Mexican Ambassador George Alvares, the chair of the Social Democratic Henchag Party Dr. Mardig Jamgotchian; the president of the Near East School of Theology Dr. Mary Mikhael, the national director of World Vision Ms. Anita Delhaas-van Dijk, the secretary general of the Bible Society Lebanon Dr. Mike Bassous, in addition to representatives of different embassies, associations, University lecturers and friends of Haigazian University.
April 1915 was the beginning of a brutal extermination of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkey, a genocide that changed the lives of all Armenians forever. Now, only four years away from the 100 year anniversary, the Armenians of the Diaspora still long for their homeland and recall the suffering of their grandparents and great-grandparents.
In remembrance of this tragic loss, a varied selection of beautiful pieces of poetry and prose were read to those in attendance. The powerful words of Hovhannes Toumanian, Kevork Emin, Siamanto, and other great Armenian poets went straight to the heart.
The prominent participants invited to read these passages came from various walks of life, including H.E. Mr. Ashod Kocharian, the Armenian Ambassador, Mr. Mohammad El Sammak, Secretary General of the Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue, and Secretary General of the Islamic Spiritual Summit in Lebanon; Father Marwan Tabet, Secretary General of the Catholic Schools in Lebanon; Maestro Dr. Harout Fazlian, Conductor of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra; Mr. Wael Kheir, lecturer on International Law and Human Rights; Ms. Sarah Adams, the representative of the Mennonite Central Committee for Lebanon & Syria; Mrs. Carmen Labaki Kadian, movie director and producer; and Ms. Dima Matta, a Haigazian University graduate.
The poignant musical pieces selected for this solemn occasion were performed by the Ethno Vocal Trio of Armenia, led by Anna Mayilian, the artistic director, and vocalists Alina Avakian and Hasmig Zakarian, as well as pianist Elen Giragosian. The enthralling choral piece “Ov Hayots Ashkhar” was jointly sung by the Hamazkayin Ayk Choir and the Armenian Evangelical Armiss Choir, under the leadership of Mr. Zakar Keshishian.
The namesake of the University, Dr. Armenag Haigazian’s tragic suffering and death was remembered through the words of his grandson, in a filmed excerpt of the 2010 graduation ceremony.
Another moving video segment came from Peter Balakian’s lecture at Haigazian University, back in 2005, reading the story of “Manoug”, from his book “The Black Dog of Fate”.
In addition, a slide show of the famous French-Armenian artists, Jansem’s paintings depicted scenes of deportation and martyrdom, as Lucine Zakarian’s recorded music moved the audience with awe.
With the coincidence of the Resurrection of Christ with the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide this year, today was also a time for hope and for justice. In the words of Mr. Mohammad El Sammak, “people change, justice doesn’t.”