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Memorial dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide inaugurated in Geneva


On April 13, the “Streetlights of Memory” memorial (Les Réverbères de la Mémoire) - a homage to the victims of the Armenian Genocide has been inaugurated in Park Trembley of Geneva with the participation of Mr. Charles Aznavour, Ambassador of Armenia in Switzerland.

The bronze ensemble of 10-meter high streetlights – the work of the French Armenian renowned artist – is the gift of the Armenian community of Switzerland to the City of Geneva, highlighting the common historical memory of Genevans and Armenians.

The unveiling ceremony, organized by Geneva Municipality, was attended by Mr.Rémy Pagani, Mayor of Geneva, Mr. Sami Kanaan, former Mayor (2014/2015) and currently Deputy Mayor of Geneva responsible for cultural affairs, Mr. Antonio Hodgers, State Councilor of the Republic and Canton of Geneva. The representatives of Geneva authorities emphasized in their remarks the importance of the monument, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, in the fight against collective violence, paying tribute to the rights and unhealed wounds of vulnerable nations.

Mr. Vahé Gabrache and Mr. Stefan Kristensen, the Co-Chairs of the Monument Construction Coordination Committee, as well as Mrs. Michèle Freiburghaus, Director of Geneva Contemporary Art Fund, touched upon the significance of the monument, history of construction, reminding that the "Streetlights of Memory" waiting for the construction permission for around eight years, were temporarily hosted in San Lazzaro during the Venice Contemporary Art Biennale and were awarded with the prestigious Golden Lion Award.

Mrs. Hasmik Tolmajyan, Minister Plenipotentiary of Armenia, underlined in her speech that the common historical memory of Genevans and Armenians and the installation of the “Streetlights of Memory” monument commemorating the victims of the Genocide are the evidence of the commitment of Geneva, the international human rights capital, to continuously fight for the right to memory and combat the crimes against humanity and denial.

She considered symbolic that the inauguration of the monument coincided with the 70th anniversary of the United Nations two most important documents - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide.

Hasmik Tolmajyan mentioned that ten-year-long imposed wandering of the monument reflected the path of the Armenian nation's survivors, while reiterating the danger of the state's policy of denial.

The representative of Armenia also expressed hope that the “Streetlights of Memory” commemorating the victims of the first genocide of the twentieth century will become the homage venue for the descendants of the victims of mass atrocities.

Mrs. Tolmajyan expressed deep gratitude to the Swiss people, the people of Geneva, for their exceptional solidarity with the Armenian people during the darkest hour of the latter, for the nationwide appeal against the barbaric acts, as well as for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Geneva City Council and the Swiss National Council. She also thanked all the Mayors of Geneva in office since 2008, the Geneva Contemporary Art Fund, as well as the Coordinating Committee of the Armenian community for their ten-year-long consistent efforts aimed at the installation of the memorial.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Deputy Director General of the UN Geneva Office, ambassadors accredited in Geneva, members of the Swiss Federal Parliament, Grand Council of the Republic of Geneva, Geneva City Council, journalists, as well as numerous representatives of the Armenian community.

With the joint initiative of the Geneva Municipality and the Contemporary Art Fund, the posters advertising the installation and the inauguration of the Memorial were placed in the center of the city, along the Lake Leman. The exhibition of the selected articles from the Swiss press published in 1895-1920 covering the Armenian issue, Armenian massacres and the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire was opened in the Park Trembley.

The inauguration of the Monument has been broadly covered by the Swiss public television and other Francophone TV channels and newspapers.

Information note: In 2004 the Swiss-Armenian community applied to the Geneva City Council with the request to install a monument in Geneva on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. In 2008, the Council made a unanimous decision granting permission for the construction of the Monument. As a result of the announced competition, the eight member jury recognized the project presented by the French-Armenian artist Melik Ohanyan as the winner.

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