International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – 13/12/16

On December 9, a commemoration prayer service was held on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established 9 December as the International Day as the 9th of December is the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”).

The service was offered in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. In attendance were Mr. Gagik Harutyunyan, Republic of Armenia Constitutional Court Chairman; Ms. Hermine Naghdalyan, National Assembly Vice President; Ms. Hranush Hakobyan, Republic of Armenia Diaspora Minister; National Assembly deputies; representatives of the authorities of the Republic of Armenia; heads of foreign diplomatic missions accredited to Armenia; Supreme Spiritual Council members; public figures and workers of education and science.

At the conclusion of the service, His Holiness addressed his message to the attendees.

December 9, 2016
(Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin)

Your Excellences, Mr. President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia, Distinguished state officials, representatives of diplomatic missions and guests,

We greet you and extend to you our pontifical blessings and appreciation for attending this commemorative event. Today we recognize the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

Genocide is an atrocious crime against humanity, which sadly still occurs in our world today. Unfortunately, it is not merely by definitions that our nation is familiar with genocide and the pain of the denial of such crime. Our fraternal people: the Greeks, the Assyrians, the Jews and the Yezidis whose representatives are present today at this commemorative event, have also felt the sorrow of genocide.

The horrific massacres of the Armenians and then the Jewish people in the first half of the 20th century alarmed the conscience of nations prompting them to adopt the Genocide Convention. However, decades after the adoption of the convention we witnessed genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and elsewhere. Today, because of the situation of military unrest in the Middle East, representatives of religious minorities: Yezidis, Christians as well as Muslims, are becoming subject to violence and genocidal actions.

As a nation who has survived the first genocide of the 20th century, we are determined to support all the efforts of the international community towards prevention of all crimes against humanity. Such atrocities very often occur because of the absence of global condemnation and a sense of impunity. There is an urgent need for joint efforts and common rejection of today’s growing forms of racism and hatred based on religious beliefs, which give birth to violations of human rights, violence and crimes. The prevention of genocides and of similar crimes requires not only the will of the international community, but also a clear and definite stance and determination by governments, regardless of political agendas.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). St. John the Evangelist conveys the message of Jesus Christ in which our Lord comforts all those whose hearts are troubled and who suffer from all kinds of tribulations, both spiritual and physical. His message is truly an invitation for all of us to partake in his mission of spreading love and peace. Moreover, we are called to demonstrate compassion towards our fellow human beings, for whenever humanity is filled with hate, anger and envy instead of love and tolerance, it becomes indifferent to the pain and loss of others and thus it indirectly assists in the perpetration of genocide.

We pray so that by the intercession of our holy martyrs, peace may be established in the world, especially wherever the normal pace of life is disturbed, wherever there is warfare and violence. We also pray for the enemies of humanity to be graced with the wisdom of love and compassion towards their fellow human beings.

Today, in many corners of the Globe people gather in solidarity for all the victims of genocides. From the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin we unite our prayers with those of our sisters and brothers around the world aimed towards recognition of all the crimes committed against humanity. Let us be hopeful that our voices, offered to God Most High, will echo in the hearts of all people in recognition and condemnation of all kinds of violence committed against humanity, for the sake of prevention of the horrific crime of genocide and for building a safe and peaceful life.