It was once again a day filled with stories here in Yerevan. The genocide is on everyone’s mind and lips and is without a doubt a formative element of Armenian identity. The centennial brings the issue once again into the centre of attention, but as a lady in our taxi stated:
‘We don’t need this centennial or even this special day on the 24th of April to commemorate what happened to our people. Every day we remember.’
The stories on the 1915 genocide are various. There are many personal accounts of experiences with the tragic and violent loss and deportation of close family members. They pair with stories of survival, stories of grandfathers and mothers that miraculously escaped the massacres and death marches that ended in the Syrian dessert. These often highly emotional accounts, bring to light a very personal involvement in the commemoration:
‘I came to Armenia to honour and remember my grandparents, I want to bring a flower in their honour to the genocide memorial at the 24th of April.’
There is also a strong political story communicated. The city of Yerevan is full with banners and billboards that shout out a clear – not to be mistaken – message:
But very often these personal and political stories intertwine and one is used to reinforce the other. In the days to come I will collect some of these personal accounts to post them here.