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Armenian Culture, Science and Education Development Foundation

İstanbul concert held to remember Armenian intellectuals murdered 100 years ago

02

A concert was held in Istanbul on Wednesday evening in remembrance of the Armenian intellectuals, community leaders and political activists who were arrested by Ottoman authorities on April 24, 1915, an event that marked the beginning of the deportations and massacres of Armenians.

Among those who attended the “In Memoriam April 24″ concert at the İstanbul Congress Center were US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass, French Ambassador Laurent Bili, former Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertuğrul Günay, human rights lawyer and Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu and intellectual Hasan Cemal.

Armenian artists from around the world performed songs and recited poetry in Armenian at the event, which was sponsored by Anadolu Kültür institution and Kalan Music record label.

Arsinee Khanjian opened the concert with a recital of Daniel Varoujan’s poem “Blessing of the Earth.” Varoujan, a poet and lecturer in the Ottoman Empire who published his poems in Armenian newspapers and journals, was killed by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in 1915.

Letters written by politician and writer Smpad Piurad from Ayaş Prison were read aloud by his great-great granddaughter Seda Byurat and included the lines: “I have great hope that justice will eventually be done. This is a storm, and it will pass, do not worry.” He was ultimately killed in Ankara at the age of 53.

The premiere of the piece “Homage to Gomidas” by Turkish poet, composer and human rights activist Zülfü Livaneli, was performed by pianist Henning Schmiedt and cellist Erman İmayhan. After the performance, Livaneli stood up and applauded the duo.
The concert included performances from a variety of esteemed musicians such as Ara Dinkjian, Onnik Dinkjian, Şahan Arzruni. Hasmik Harutyunyan, one of Armenia’s best-known folk singers, as well as Armenian-Lebanses Eileen Khatchadourian, who blends traditional Armenian songs with alternative rock.

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Anadolu Kültür Board Chairman Osman Kavala said: “On this day 100 years ago, Armenian intellectuals, writers and poets in İstanbul had one last night of restful sleep in their beds. The following night, there was a knock on their doors and their journey to death began. In the end, Armenians were slaughtered, and one of the richest layers of culture on this earth that nurtures us was destroyed in İstanbul, Trabzon, Harput, Diyarbakır and Van: in every corner of our country. If they could have lived, then today there would be more writers, poets and artists educated and more art lovers alive in many cities of our country.”

In the same statement, the founder of Kalan Music, Hasan Saltık, stated, “If what happened 100 years ago had been brought to account, maybe Sept. 6-7 [pogroms of 1955] would not have happened and the massacres in Dersim, Kahramanmaraş, and Sivas would not have occurred.”

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