The Armenian Genocide: How Tourists Can Get Involved?
All About the History of the Armenian Genocide Its Rememberance Day
The Armenian Genocide is an open wound for the entire nation as well as the diaspora. Every year on April 24, Armenians all around the world commemorate the memory of the victims of the Genocide. Armenia transforms completely throughout the day allowing tourists to explore the open wounds of the people and this important piece of history.
The Armenian Genocide
One of the heaviest “scars” in the history of Armenians is the 1915 Genocide executed by the Ottoman Empire. Although 103 years are past the grievous events, and many influential countries refuse to name the massacres as a Genocide, the day is commemorated in Armenia by thousands of people paying tribute to the victims by walking up the Genocide Memorial on April 24 every year.
The massacres and atrocities were continuing all along during the first World War, from 1914 to 1918, the Remembrance Day is observed on April 24, because on that day Armenian intellectuals were deported from Constantinople (current Istanbul, Turkey) and killed. During the Genocide, ethnic Armenians were not only killed, but also tortured, starved and deported to deserts to starve of hunger.
The events are described in the works of many Armenian poets, but for a foreigner to have an overall picture of the Armenian Genocide, one can watch recently released “The Promise” (2017), starring Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac, and Charlotte Le Bon, depicting the events from a perspective of individual life, where love and family are featured.
As an aftermath of the Genocide, the core of the Armenian diaspora was formed which was later augmented by intermittent flows of migration from the country, and currently there are around 10 million Armenians living abroad, while only 3 million live in the Republic of Armenia.
What is there for tourists and how you can get most of the day?
The day is a sheer chance for tourists to get involved in the activities of the day, have a closer look at the history, but also at emotions and beliefs of people living in the country. Every year, on the eve of the mourning day, on April 23, thousands of people march to the Memorial with torchlights on their hands and many carrying Armenian flags. The organizers have declared the day as a day of condemning the denial of Genocide and showing the invincible spirit of the Armenians.Torchlight procession begins from Freedom Square at 8 p.m.. It is accompanied by Armenian spirited songs, with people shouting “recognition” to have their voices heard.
On the actual day, April 24 (the day when most of the Armenian intellectuals were massacred in 1915), however, the procession is quiet.The flow of visitors is enormous, and the latter does not cease a moment during the day. People go there as a pilgrimage, on foot, pay their tribute to the victims around the eternal fire in the center of the Memorial. At the end of the day, the fire is not visible due to the high hills of flowers that visitors put around it in the memory of the innocent victims. Visit to the memorial is viewed to be a national and moral duty for every Armenian, and all ages of people go there to pay tribute to their ancestors.
Learn the history first-hand!
One of the highly regarded museums in Yerevan is the Armenian Genocide Museum near the Memorial. The museum contains thousands of materials, all in English, Russian and Armenian, relating to the facts of the Armenian Genocide. After the recent renovation, high-tech improvements, such as touch screens and projectors, are available for better getting to know the atrocities of the 20th century. Foreign language speaking quality tour guides are available in the museum.