Speech on 22 April 2022 Place de la Liberté in Bron – France In memory of Archag Tchobanian “Armenia, a country widowed by its Freedom Mrs Anissa Kheder, Deputy of the Rhône,Mr Jérémie Bréaud, Mayor of Bron, Regional Councillor, and representing Mr Laurent Wauquiez President of the Rhône-Alpes Auvergne RegionMr. Stéphane Genin, Municipal Council member in charge of veterans and the duty to remember,Mr. Laurent Deschamps, President of the Liaison Committee of Veterans’ and Resistance Fighters’ Associations of BronLadies and Gentlemen of the French Republic,Ladies and Gentlemen of the Republic of Western Armenia,Ladies and Gentlemen, Veterans and officials of the constituted bodiescivil and military security forces,Ladies and Gentlemen in charge of associations,Ladies and Gentlemen, flag bearers,Dear compatriots and friends,On this national day dedicated to Remembrance, I would like to greet and warmly thank Mr. Jérémie Bréaud, Mayor of Bron, who, by the initiative he took as soon as he was elected to the Magistracy to commemorate the victims of the genocide of the Armenians in Bron, is an unprecedented event in the history of our city, which saw the arrival in the 1920s of the first Armenian exiles fleeing the genocide.
As the fourth generation of a family that was part of these exiles, I grew up right here on the Place de la Liberté, a name symbolic of the eternal battles fought in its defence.
The genocide of the Armenians was perpetrated on the Armenian high plateau between the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It was on this territory, now called Western Armenia, that the Armenians developed one of the oldest centres of civilisation, with at least 10,000 years of evidence of its existence, and founded a prosperous state that was one of the first states in the world.
This territory has been subject to invasions and terrible hardships throughout its history, but nothing like what it suffered with the Turkish-Seljuk invasion.
As soon as these nomadic hordes from Central Asia arrived to settle on the Armenian plateau, dehumanisation and annihilation were the lot of the indigenous population and the genocide of the Armenians is part of this.
The genocide of the Armenians was perpetrated over a period of 30 years from 1894 to 1923 by three successive Turkish governments, in the Ottoman Empire, under the Hamidian regime and then under the Young Turks and Kemalists.
But this was only the culminating phase. Thus, in successive waves and in a recurrent manner, successive contemporary Turkish governments have planned and are planning plans for the execution of Armenian populations on the indigenous territory of Armenians.
The latest being in 2020, during the genocidal Turkish-Azerian aggression and its allied coalition against the indigenous population of Artsakh resulting in 5,000 victims and 10,000 mutilated.
In this and for more than a century, the Armenian nation has been subjected to a war of extermination.
By using the terminology “war of extermination” in a visionary way, Jean Jaurès had grasped the full extent of the misfortune that was befalling the Armenian nation.The qualification of “war of extermination” was later to be codified in international law under the terminology of genocide, and the Armenian nation had the sad fate of being the reference point.
“The first of human rights is individual freedom, freedom of property, freedom of thought, freedom of work”, said Jean-Jaurès.To corroborate this assertion, and in view of the observation I have made while participating in the sessions of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations, I would add that the right to land is the first human right.
It is this right to land on the altar of which peoples have been sacrificed, dispossessed, massacred, genocided.The land without which no nation, no people can exist, cannot forge its traditions, its culture and constitute itself as a state.
Considering that one of the constitutive elements of a state is its population, the Turkish governments have resorted and still resort to various genocidal programmes to prevent the formation of this state, which was nevertheless recognised in 1920 by 34 states including France.
Considering that one of the constituent elements of a state is its territory, the Turkish governments have illegally occupied the territory of the Armenian nation for 102 years.
This universal cause is not only the right to self-determination and the application of international law, but also the recognition of a state by other states, which resulted in the signing of the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres for the Armenian and especially the Turkish side, without which the conditions for a lasting peace cannot be found in this region of the world and to which France holds one of the keys.
I would like once again to thank the Mayor and all the parties involved in this ceremony for the work of remembrance of all those who fell for Freedom and the right to exist so that, following the title of the programme of the National Council of the Resistance, “Happy days” may also exist, one day, in Armenia.
Long live France, long live the French people!Long live Western Armenia, long live Artsakh and long live the Armenian people!
Lydia Margossian Vice-President of the National Association of Armenian Veterans and Resistance Fighters National Council of Western Armenia