Inspired by the Flower of Srebrenica, this six-day special series on the anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre (11 – 22 July, 1995) looks at six floral iconographies that have come to define war, revolution and resistance. Today we look at the official centenary logo of the Armenian Genocide.
During World War I, the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire was simmering with tensions that soon gave way to a bloodbath. In a genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman authorities in 1915 and 1916, around 1.2 million Armenian Christians were either killed en masse or led to their death through torture, starvation and death marches. This was not the first time that the Armenians were subjected to a policy of complete annihilation. In the 1890s and 1909 too, the Ottoman Empire witnessed large scale anti-Armenian pogroms. The mass exterminations during the First World War were fuelled by the fear and suspicion that the Christian Armenians were supporting Russia, Ottoman Empire’s major enemy. It was a grim spring of 1915 when the Ottoman authorities began deporting Armenians from its north-eastern border regions which then expanded to them being expelled from almost all provinces.
In 2015, the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide was observed on 24th April, the day several hundred Armenian intellectuals were arrested in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). The Armenian diaspora mobilised around the image of the forget-me-not and adopted it as an emblem of the global collective memory along with the Armenian slogan “hishoum em yev bahantchoum” (I remember and I demand). The black centre stands for the suffering of the victims, while the light purple petals symbolize the unity of the Armenian people. The five petals represent the five continents where the survivors fled to, whereas the twelve trapezoids represent the twelve pillars of the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex in Yerevan. The Forget-me-not is a fitting memorabilia of eternal remembrance of a tragedy that was for long absent from public discourse and is still underplayed by those complicit in it.