Tag Archives: Martyrs Square

March 14 and the Myth of the Cedar Revolution (By Marina Chamma)

14 Mar

March 14 and the Myth of the Cedar Revolution

If March 14 2005 would happen again, I would be exactly where I was – in the middle of the chanting and exuberant crowds in Martyrs’ Square – when it all happened.  It was history and I was part of it, along with thousands of others who gathered there. The excitement of screaming Ya Bashar, ya *******, Tal’le Jayshak min Beirut (Oh Bashar, Oh [expletive], Get Your Army out of Beirut) straight into the face of a Lebanese soldier without the fear of arrest. The indescribable feeling of dignity restored, standing in an ocean of Lebanese flags singing along to Julia Boutros’ Ana Bitnaf’as Houriye (I Breathe Freedom). The emotion of seeing the sheer crowds gathered on one day, in one place, for some sort of hope for a better future, which few, if any, knew what would look like. At the same time, it was the implicit awareness, even in the midst of the protest, that such a sight of unity and the seeds of a possible revolution that may come with it wouldn’t survive.

march-14-2005-ap

But was it really unity? It is true that March 14, 2005 was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, demonstrations in contemporary Lebanese history, with an anti-Syria common denominator. However, people also had other reasons for being there. Some where there to mourn Rafik El Hariri and avenge his death, while others were there as part of their ongoing opposition to the Syrian regime (it being the prime suspect behind the Hariri assassination at the time). Others were there because they opposed the gathering of March 8 (the day in which pro-Syrian Lebanese gathered to “Thank Syria” for all it has done, a show of solidarity while it was being accused to killing Hariri). Others were there to call for an end to Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, while others called for a drastic change to the political system and its leaders, which until then, was nurtured and protected by Syria itself.

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Let me refresh your memory! (By Yeghig Tashjian

21 Jun

Let me refresh your memory!

Martyrs’ square, Beirut, 1982 (Source: Wikipedia)

“Study the past if you would define the future.” –Confucius

During my visit to Vienna in 2012, I was discussing Middle Eastern politics with some friends. The conversation then shifted to the history books of our respective countries; however, I became silent when it was my turn to talk about Lebanon’s history book. What was I supposed to say? That the history textbooks used in schools in Lebanon end with the withdrawal of the French troops in 1946? Or that the country does not have an accurate and unified history book that covers the country’s post-independence years? Normally, history textbooks are updated every 5-10 years, but not in Lebanon’s case.

Why should we care about having an unbiased and objective history book? And why is it so important?

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Why we remember, 99 years after the Armenian Genocide (By Yeghig Tashjian)

25 Apr

Why we remember, 99 years after the Armenian Genocide

Image courtesy of www.photoraffi.me

“For your freedom we have lived and for your independence we are dying.” —Abdul-Karim el-Khalil, with a rope around his neck, May 6, 1916.
Every year, Armenians all over the world — in Armenia and the diaspora — commemorate the anniversary of the genocide on April 24. On this day in 1915, around 400 Armenian intellectuals were arrested by the Turkish gendarmes and were all executed. The plan of the Central Committee of the Young Turks Party was simply to annihilate the Armenian nation and to create a Pan-Turkic Empire, which would extend from Istanbul to Central Asia. During this Genocidal campaign, around 1,500,000 Armenians perished and hundreds of thousands of Assyrians, Syriacs and Greeks were slaughtered. Henry Morgenthau, the US ambassador to Turkey who witnessed the massacre, quoted Ottoman ruler Talaat Pasha as saying, “What Sultan Abdul Hamid failed in 30 years, I have accomplished it in just 3 months.” The genocide was done.
This year, the Lebanese-Armenian committee of the 100th anniversary of the genocide organized a candle-lit march on the eve of the genocide’s Remembrance Day. It started from the Bourj Hammoud Municipality Square and headed towards Martyrs’ Square in Downtown Beirut. Thousands of people, young and old, lit the streets with their candles and shouted “Justice!” as they marched. By 9 pm, Martyrs’ Square was filled with both Lebanese-Armenians and non-Armenians, with Lebanese and Armenian flags, and guest speakers gave their speeches.
In his speech, former Interior Minister Ziad Baroud insisted that no matter what, the truth must be recognized, because denial can’t erase or heal the wounded memories of the Armenians. He added, “Today I see the tears of pride in the eyes of the young generation, the tears that you inherited from your grandparents.” The next guest speaker was Haigazian University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, who stated that although 99 years ago, Armenians were deported from their land, leaving behind their homes, properties, memories, history and were marched to the desert towards an ambiguous future, our ancestors didn’t lose hope. They founded and built new homes around the world. He ended his speech with the following: “Before 99 years, Armenians were scattered like ashes right and left in dark, but today, today my fellow people and youth, you have overcome on the dark, with the candles in your hands, you have lightened the Martyrs’ square, this square which was also covered with dark when the same criminals executed the (Lebanese) intellectuals.”

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