ANTELIAS–Addressing thousands of Armenian pilgrims who gathered in the desert of Der Zor from throughout the world on April 24–His Holiness Aram I said–"I address my first greeting to one-and-a-half million martyrs–to those who have fallen in this desert. It is plain fact that the Armenian genocide–the first genocide of the 20th century was carefully planned and systematically executed by Ottoman Turkey. The relics that are displayed in this church and in the Chapel not far away from this place–as well as hundreds thousands of relics that were found in the sands of this dessert are indeed eloquent and tangible evidence of massacres that were committed in this very place by the Ottoman army under the pretext of exodus and deportation."
"As the son of a people who went through the terrible experience of Genocide–and as the Spiritual leader engaged in the service of a people who survived a major Genocide–I call for justice."
Catholicos Aram I expressed his gratitude to all nations–states–churches and international organizations who have formally recognized the Armenian genocide. He said–"Any attempt to exterminate a nation is a genocide; and genocide is a crime against humanity. Hence–the international community and particularly the United Nations must not remain silent about this crime." His Holiness reminded that the Armenian genocide was followed by other genocides in Africa–in Asia–and in the Middle East with different names–forms and scope–and he strongly appealed for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as "to prevent new genocide against humanity."
His Holiness concluded his strong message by making a direct appeal to Turkey "which continues–through political and diplomatic means and by using all of its information power to deny the Genocide. We don’t consider Turkey as an enemy; nations must coexist on the basis of mutual respect and trust. But–how is it possible to achieve such a coexistence when justice is still denied for the Armenia’s–and their fundamental human rights are still violated. Do we not have the right and the obligation–as the sons of a people who were subjected to a genocide–to demand justice for our martyrs? Do we not have the right to constantly remind Turkey–its people–its government and particularly its youth that a genocide was perpetrated by their forefathers against our forefathers and that a day–therefore–they have the obligation to duly recognize it?"
The message of His Holiness was preceded by two acts full of profound symbolism and spiritual appeal. Leading thousands of people His Holiness prayed for the Armenian martyrs on the sands of Der Zor–which in his words are "imbued with the blood and faith of the Armenian Martyrs." His Holiness also baptized one boy and one girl with the participation of thousands of pilgrims–in the river of Euphrates–as the symbol of the resurrection of the Armenian people. He said: "This river in 1915 became a symbol of the death of the Armenian People–where thousands of Armenian children were killed even before without being baptized thrown. Today the same river becomes the place of the renaissance of the Armenian people."