Archive for the ‘Hunger Strike Participants’ Blog’ Category

It’s nearing the last stretch of the hunger strike, but everyone seems to be feeling better than ever. This morning, we relocated to directly infront of the Turkish Consulate, where we held the Candle light vigil last night, and have set up for the protest today at 2pm. The sky is clear, and the sun is piercing after a cloudy weekend. We are expecting the group of Turks and Azeri’s to be present today in large numbers, but if they are to continue as they have for the last 3 days, they will only humiliate themselves further. We would like to ask all those who can make it out to be here and scream and shout in unity, to be the voice to the newly elected government of Turkey, making it clear that Turkey has a long way to go in recognizing its past, and changing its policies, before it can move forward towards becoming a modern nation. We will remind Turkey that although they may work to silence their citizens through Article 301 of their penal code, nothing can silence our voices. We do not have a vote in Turkey, but the waves we create from the Diaspora have begun to hit the shores of Turkey. More and more, citizens of Turkey are becoming aware of this dark past, and seeing that the government of today remains an accomplice of the ottoman empire. Today, we send another wave, and remind the Turkish Government, that we will continue, until their wall of denial crumbles, and they are brought to justice.

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We entered the 52nd hour as the candle light vigil began at 9pm. Setting up at the intersection of Lower Spadina, and Queens Quay, over 80 people were present at the vigil. Nairi Saraphanian, one of the inividuals participating in the hunger strike, was the MC of the event, and Garni Tatikian, who is also participating in the hunger strike, spoke on behalf of the hunger strikers. Ishkhan Etyemezian read a quote from Armenian Genocide Survivor Rahan Kachian. Daniel Ohanian, of the Armen Karo Student Association, recited a poem, and Daron Mardirossian and Saro Wanes played the doudoug. The candle light vigil was truely a solemn atmosphere, right by the water, but was disturbed continuously by the group of Turks and Azeri’s who chanted from accross the street. Their presence was embaressing for themselves as the people passing by, including the police there to control the situation, were disgusted by their attempt to disturb the speeches, poems, music and prayers.

It was definitely a frustrating situation. Being protested against during a candle light vigil really hit the nerves of all participants. However, the Armenians kept their calm and carried out a very successful event.

We are now into the 48th hour of the Hunger Strike. Although there are no counter-protesters across the street today, we have had a few situations. A car drove by holding a tissue box out of the window, asking if we wanted one in a condescending tone. A few others have walked by asking if we wanted a hot dog. These actions just make our resolve stronger. A young Turkish woman came by and had a long conversation. She talked about her dislike of Erdogan and that things need to change in Turkey. She knew little about the Genocide, however. The warm, sunny day has sent a lot of foot traffic our way along Toronto’s waterfront. It only increased as people stopped to ask about a collision between a car and a light-rail streetcar down the street. It is great to see people stop their busy day to learn more by asking questions and reading the posters. In a few hours, the candlelight vigil in front of the consulate will begin.

Fatigue and hunger are starting to set in. Waking up in the morning was harder than usual, but our motivation is strong. The lack of energy is much more obvious today, as many of us are lying down, too tired to walk around. Visitors continue to drop by, lending their support and distributing flyers. In a multicultural city like Toronto, many passers by shared their own experience with crimes against humanity.  A Ukrainian woman and a Croatian man spoke about the genocides in their own countries.  At 9:00 pm today, the Candlelight Vigil will take place in front of the Turkish Consulate of Toronto at 10 Lower Spadina St, on Queens Quay. Thank you to all those who came to support the initiative on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. See you again tonight!

It is now 10:00pm on Saturday night, as we enter the 28th hour of the hunger strike. The group of Turks across the street have long left, but a small group walking by the protest has been the highlight of the last 20 minutes. The group of young men included a Turkish youth who was curious to hear about the Armenian Genocide, as he insisted that the Turks had never committed such an act. A very interesting conversation ensued…He stood amazed as we educated him about the history of the Ottoman Empire. Our group seemed to know more about his people’s history than he did. The young man, who had recently moved to Canada from Turkey left with a completely different view of history, than the one he had come to know growing up in Turkey. Unger Harout Manougian, chair of the Armenian Youth Federation of Canada even graciously gave him his personal copy of “A Shameful Act” by Turkish scholar Taner Akcam, so that the young man could hear a Turkish scholar’s perspective of the Armenian Genocide.

We are certain that as more and more Turks come to know and understand the true history of the Armenian Genocide, the walls of injustice will come down from within Turkey.

The death march of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire took place against the backdrop of the hostilities of World War I. In the spring of 1915 Ottoman rulers ordered that all Armenians be expelled from their homes in areas outside of war zones. The Armenians—men, women, and children—were then lined up and made to walk in convoys of tens of thousands toward the Syrian desert. Although the expulsions resembled deportations, the treatment of the people making the march by Turkish “guards” made it clear that a more sinister agenda was driving the march: a planned elimination of the Armenian population through a process of starvation and exhaustion. The death march was a culmination of decades of Turkish discrimination against Armenians, which had long consisted of the barring of Armenians from serving in the Turkish army, executions of small groups of Armenians, and mass killings by special forces.

During the march many Armenians were killed indiscriminately by Ottoman forces, which left a trail of corpses along the route of the march. To break the will of the marchers, the killings were performed with swords, resulting in great bloodshed. Marchers who survived these attacks faced starvation, as no provisions for food were made; many elderly and infirm marchers died in this way during the march. The significantly reduced numbers of marchers who finally made it to the Syrian desert were put into concentration camps located between the towns of Jerablus and Der-Zor, and then released into the scorching desert with no food or water, to certain death.

Our hunger strike is in memory of all those who perished in the Armenian Genocide. It is to honour and pay tribute to our forefathers who were forced to starve to their deaths. It is our symbolic way of showing the world that the Armenian youth will continue their struggle for justice, until justice is finally served.

96 years ago, the Ottoman Empire tried to erase the Armenian people from the face of the earth. Did they ever imagine that three generations down the road, we would still be fighting for our rights – stronger than ever? We have not forgotten what our grandfathers and great-grandfathers went through, and never will.

The first 24 hours of the hunger strike are complete. It has been difficult at times, however, our spirits are high and our determination is strong…

WE WILL CONTINUE OUR STRUGGLE UNTIL JUSTICE IS SERVED!

 

 

We are nearing the 24 hour mark, and everyone is feeling positive. We have had several visitations this morning from leaders of the Armenian community. The group of Turks arrived not too long ago, today a bit more organized then yesterday, with signs and Turkish and Azeri flags. Although we are disinterested in what they are doing, we couldn’t’ help but notice the upside-down Canadian flag they walked around with for over an hour before correcting.

We thank all those who have come out to support us.