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Week long programme to mark 1915 Armenian Genocide - 18 April 2001

London-A week-long schedule of activities to mark the 86th anniversary of the start of the Armenia Genocide, in 1915, will begin on April 22 with a Commemorative programme that will include filmed interviews with two Genocide survivors. The Observance programme will be held at Baden Powell House, Cromwell Road, beginning at 7.30pm

April 24 is the date when the Ottoman Turks rounded up hundreds of prominent Armenian community leaders, including two members of the Turkish Parliament, and tortured and eventually killed them. Leaderless, the Armenians in Turkey were easy victims of the 20th century's first genocide, during which the 2,140,000 Armenians were killed or ethnically cleansed from their 3000-year-old homeland. The British programme will be matched world-wide as all Armenians in the Diaspora mark the Genocide anniversary.

Historian Christopher Walker will cover the historic aspects of the Genocide, thus refuting the continued denials of the present Turkish government.

The Observance programme will be introduced by Nouritza Matossian, the author of "Black Angel," the life of the Armenian painter, Arshile Gorky.

On the days following the Commemorative programme, there will be showing of three Genocide-oriented films on April 24, April 25, and April 26; a Memorial Church Service and a silent vigil outside the Turkish Embassy, on April 24; a March and Demonstration, on April 28; and a Remembrance Concert at the Royal Festival Hall, on April 29.

In addition to the Walker talk and the filmed interviews with the two Genocide survivors, 96-year-old Armand Keshishian, and 86-year-old Rosa Kerderian, who is still deformed as a result of the torture she received when she was two; there will be a taped "News Bulletin" during which the journalist will read contemporaneous accounts of the Genocide, as reported in the British media of the period; a reading from his own short story about the Genocide by Canadian-born author, Benet Davetian; film clips from the three films that are to be shown during the following week at the London School of Economics; a musical interlude by violinist Oliver Langford; and the singing of "Genocide," a rap song by the British-based rap band Hokis. The 90-minute programme will end with a Prayer Service led by Bishop Nathan Hovhanessian, Primate of the Armenian Church in Great Britain.

The films will be screened by the LSE's History Society. "Destination Nowhere," to be shown at 4pm, on April 24, retraces the steps of the Armenians on the Death March into the Syrian desert, during which hundreds of thousands died. Those who survived the Death March were killed at the ultimate destination, Der el-Zor. The film was made recently jointly by Mischa Wegner, the son of Armin Wegner who took some of the most memorial photos of the Genocide, and Rome-based Dr Pietro Kuciukian.

"Voices from the Lake" received its world premiere in London last year, and will be shown at 4.30pm, on April 25. It is made by award-winning film producer/director, J. Michael Hagopian, and tells the story of the destruction of Harpoot, where he was born. Swedish-made "Back to Ararat" is the story of a group of young Diaspora Armenians making their first visit to Armenia. It will be shown at 6pm, on April 26.

A Genocide-related photo exhibition will be shown at Baden Powell House, to coincide with the Commemorative programme. The photos are primarily images of Armenia, the Genocide, and refugees, from the Danish Missionary Archives, and are provided courtesy of the Gomidas Institute of the UK.

The "Spring Remembrance Concert," in memory of the Armenian victims of 1915, which will be held in the Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall, on April 29, will close the week-long programme of activities. It will feature Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne, violin; Thomas Carroll, cello; Hyung-Ki Joo and Anna Saradjian, pianos, in works by Elgar, Mendelssohn, Khachaturian, Bagdasarian, and Komitas. It is sponsored jointly by the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Charitable Trust and the Benlian Trust.

All activities of the week-long programme are free to the public, except the Concert.

It should be noted that despite the evidence in its own archives-possibly second only to that in the American archives-successive British governments continue to deny the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide. Consistent with this denial, the present government tried to omit any reference to the Armenian Genocide in the programme on Holocaust Memorial Day, in January.

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