CARDIFF, Wales–Saturday was the cornerstone for recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the UK initiated by the people and the Assembly of Wales.
Throughout history the Welsh people have been the standard bearers of truth and human rights, so aptly represented by the Temple of Peace where this historic event took place.
Following the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Welsh Assembly, plans were drawn by John Torosyan and Eilian Williams in conjunction with Welsh authorities to erect a cross stone (Khachkar) memorial to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The Khackhar was made of Welsh stone and by Welsh craftsmen but the design was Armenian.
Three hundred and fifty people from across the UK–mainly Welsh and Armenian-gathered at the Temple of Peace, at the Welsh Centre for International Affairs in Cardiff to witness the unveiling and consecration of the Khachkar.
The program for the day was introduced by the host, Stephen Thomas, the Director of the Temple of Peace and started with the beautiful singing of the Cor Cohion (the Red Choir) who represented the best traditions of Welsh Choral singing, including nationalistic songs dedicated to lost heroes, and prayers of solidarity between the Armenian and Welsh Nations in the Welsh language.
The congregation then moved outside to witness the consecration and dedication of the Khachkar. Vahe Gabrielian, the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia together with Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas the presiding officer of the National Assembly of Wales, took the historic step of unveiling the beautiful Khachkar. The monument was then blessed by Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian who conducted a requiem mass, accompanied by the Armenian Church Choir. The Khachkar monument was also consecrated by various welsh prayers.
The Khachkar became the first such Monument dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide to be erected on public land in the UK, on the grounds of the Temple of Peace, at the Welsh Centre of International Affairs.
Dedication speeches were made and Commemorative Wreaths were laid by various organizations.
Bishop Hovhannisian, Prelate of the Armenian Community of Great Britain, presented a gift from Catholicos Karekin II to Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas.
The ceremony continued in the Temple, where various speeches were made including messages from Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas and of Dr Vahe Gabrielyan.
Ambassador Gabrielyan’s speech concentrated the historic links between the Welsh and Armenian nations, on the policy of denial carried out over 90 years by the Turkish governmen’s, the consequences of that denial.
Gabrielyan conveyed his message of thanks to the Welsh Assembly and the Welsh People.
The event was marked by strong protests from Turkish demonstrators, organized by extremist Turkish nationalist groups who in vain tried to interrupt the prayers and the religious ceremonies by Welsh and Armenian Churches.