Switzerland – Armenia: 100 years of solidarity

The year 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Young Turks. Since 1915 and before, numerous Swiss people have been engaged in supporting the Armenian people. His Holiness Aram I., Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia, Lebanon, will honor this commitment with a visit to Switzerland on September 24 to 26. As a guest of the FSPC, he will participate in several commemorative events.
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“We are commemorating the victims. At the same time, we honor those who supported the survivors and bore witness to the things that happened,” says Gottfried Locher, Council President of the FSPC. With his visit to Switzerland, Aram I. wants to convey the thanks of the Armenians to the Swiss people and its authorities. To this end, an ecumenical worship service will be held on September 25 at 5:30 pm in the Cathedral of Bern. The worship service is followed by a public memorial event.

Among the Swiss who were involved in helping is Pastor Antony Krafft-Bonnard, who founded children’s homes for Armenian children in Begnins (VD) and Geneva in 1921. Aram I. will participate in a memorial event on September 24 in Begnins. Furthermore, His Holiness will give a speech in the honor of male nurse Jakob Künzler on September 26 in Walzenhausen (AR). Künzler witnessed the genocide first-hand and rescued numerous Armenians.

Between 1915 and 1918, Turkish Armenians fell victim to a systematic campaign of annihilation. Historians estimate that roughly 1.5 million of Armenians were killed. To this day, not a single administration of the Republic of Turkey has acknowledged the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide. In 2003, the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches called upon the National Assembly to recognize the genocide. For reconciliation and lasting peace and stability, the recognition of historical facts is imperative.

The generally recognized memorial day of the Armenian Genocide is April 24. The FSPC encourages parishes to hold memorial services on April 26 and provides liturgical material for this purpose.