ENCINO–The relevance of the Lisbon Five act today was highlighted during a 15th anniversary commemoration Sunday at the Ferrahian school’s "Avedissian" hall–organized by the Armenian Youth Federation and attended by more than 700 community members.
The evening’s keynote speaker–Dr. Henry Astarjian–specifically discussed the legacy of the Lisbon Five focusing special attention on the continuation of their commitment in the battlefields of Karabakh and in efforts to recognize the denial of the Genocide.
"They [the Lisbon Five] felt deprived of their beloved homeland. They were uncomfortable in a host country–despite its comforts–the host country was not their fatherland. This was unacceptable," said Astarjian.
The keynote speaker outlined that today several states have recognized the Armenian Genocide–among them Belgium and Russia and the efforts to pursue the Armenian Cause will result in further acceleration of those procedures.
He also explained that Turkey continues in Genocidal policies today–citing its closure of borders with Armenia and the blockade of Armenia as an example of those tactics. He chided the former regime in Armenia for not taking resolute steps in outlining a firm policy toward Turkey.
"This is the Turkey that Barone Nakhakah Levon Ter-Petrosyan and his "turn-coat Tashnag" advisor Jirair Libaridian bowed to and kissed their hand. These are the ones who desecrated the memory of the Genocide by going to Turgut Ozal’s funeral one night before April 24. Thank God they are gone. Good riddance and may we be spared future Vasags," commented Astarjian.
"Let the word go forth to friend and foe alike that the Armenian youth is restless–that the Armenian youth is determined to regain what is rightfully ours," said Astarjian who concluded "We depend on them and they are our hope and aspiration. The 21st century is Armenia’s century. One day soon this nation will rise on the shoulders of its youth and regain the glory of Tigran the Great. One day we will go home."
The AYF Central Executive also stressed that the commitment to continue the Lisbon Five legacy was still part and parcel with the AYF’s mission.
AYF CE member Raffi Haroun in his remarks stressed the continuation of the Lisbon Five struggle in the manner in which it was embodied in the Karabakh movement and drew a parallel between those selflessly giving their lives on the battlefields of Karabakh and the heroic action of the five young Armenia’s who sacrificed their life at the altar of freedom in Lisbon.
On July 27–1983–Vatche Daghlian–Simon Yahneian–Setrak Adjemian–Ara Kerjelian and Sarkis Aprahamian went on a suicide mission to the Turkish Embassy compound in Lisbon–and targeted the residence of the Turkish Ambassador to Portugal. With their act–they alerted world attention to the Armenian Genocide and the Armenian Cause.
In his remarks–Haroun emphasized that the Lisbon Five reinvigorated Hai Tahd efforts and brought forth the impetus to more aggressively pursue the just aspirations of the Armenian people.
The program commenced with the Homenetmen marching band accompanying four scouts in a flag ceremony–following which the Armenian and American national anthems were played by the band.
Five ARF Badanegan [junior] members brought to the front of the hall five wreaths adorned with each of the Lisbon Five’s photographs. Rev. Viken Vassilian–pastor of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Church in Encino began the program with a memorial prayer.
A slide show and moving presentation–which included the reenactment of the Lisbon Five’s final video message to the community was presented by AYF members. The presentation also included messages from parents and family members of the Lisbon Five expressing their pride in their sons’ selfless devotion to the Armenian Cause.
The evening’s Master of Ceremonies Koko Mgrdichian–a member of the AYF East Valley "Shahen Meghrian" chapter–welcomed the crowd and outlined the program’s relevance–as well as the important place the Lisbon Five have in AYF activities.
Mgrdichian also announced that the mother of fallen Karabakh freedom fighter Vartan Pashkhian–Aida–was among the special guests in the audience.
The program concluded with presentation of national patriotic songs by singer Nersig Ispirian.
Earlier Sunday–all Western Prelacy affiliated churches held special memorial services in memory of the Lisbon Five. Western Prelate His Grace Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian officiated over the main memorial Mass at Pasadena’s Armenian Apostolic Church.
In his sermon–the Prelate outlined the unwavering commitment of the Lisbon Five and those who followed them in the Karabakh liberation movement–paying homage to all those heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of our nation.