By Harut Sassounian,
The coronavirus pandemic disrupted the traditional plans of Armenians around the world to commemorate the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24. However, very quickly Armenians discovered new ways to commemorate the Genocide by changing the street protests and large gatherings to online marches and internet programs. In the future, when this pandemic is over, Armenians can use some of the new internet and video methods on April 24 in addition to the public events.
This year, Armenians in various countries carried out virtual programs on April 24 instead of the traditional street protests and indoor commemorative events. Today I will focus on one of these programs, the HyeID virtual march.
HyeID is a Glendale, California-based non-profit organization that was formed three years ago to plan the future Diaspora Armenian Parliament. This year, the HyeID group organized a virtual commemoration during the week of April 24, starting on April 22. Within a few days, over 341,000 Armenians and some non-Armenians from around the world endorsed the following message on the April24.Hyeid.org website: “We have to stay home this April 24, but we join the Online March. We demand justice for Turkey’s Genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.”
Within few hours of making this website public, it came under persistent and massive attack from Azerbaijan and Turkey trying to hack the site. Fortunately, the HyeID board member, Aram Ter-Martirosyan, a software engineer, and his team, reacted quickly by blocking the hacking efforts. Such an organized hacking attack could have only come from the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey. This is called “Denial-of-service attacks” which Wikipedia describes as “a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to the internet. Denial of service is typically accomplished by flooding the targeted machine or resource with superfluous requests in an attempt to overload systems and prevent some or all legitimate requests from being fulfilled.” By working around the clock for two nights, Ter-Martirosyan’s staff was able to block the flood of attacks on the April 24 link.
Another unfortunate disruptive act was caused by google which blocked the HyeID app on google play that was created by Aram Ter-Martirosyan and his staff. The Turkish and Azeri hackers, having failed in their disruptive efforts, probably complained to google to remove the app that powered the April 24 program. Google’s negative action limited significantly the number of online march participants.
Google sent the following offensive message to Aram: “We don’t allow apps that lack reasonable sensitivity towards or capitalize on a natural disaster, atrocity, conflict, death, or other tragic event.” Google also blocked the google account of Aram’s company, ConnectTo Communications, Inc., disrupting and causing damage to his business. Aram immediately filed an appeal with google, advising that the State of California, where google is headquartered, and the United States had recognized the Armenian Genocide. Google has not responded to Aram’s appeal. I suggest that HyeID or Aram file a lawsuit against google to revoke its wrongful decision on the app.
The HyeID group also posted its April 24 link on facebook, generating a large number of responses. This virtual march generated over 341,000 participants from 198 countries and territories, which included 310,000 Armenians and 41,000 non-Armenians. A major achievement was that Apple Store ranked the April 24 app as the top 10 downloaded app in the world for iPhones and iPads.
Besides publicizing the Armenian Genocide to 41,000 non-Armenians around the world, a by-product of this effort was that for the first time we discovered that there are Armenians in 198 countries and territories.
The HyeID group was ecstatic that such a large number of Armenians and non-Armenians participated in the April 24 virtual march. Even though this figure is far below the approximately 10 million Armenians worldwide, the HyeID group was surprised to find out that Armenians were dispersed in close to 200 countries. Here is the number of participants in some of the countries/territories:
Russia: 121,415 Armenians; 10,677 non-Armenians.
Armenia: 54,065 Armenians; 3,760 non-Armenians.
United States: 50,390 Armenians; 4,071 non-Armenians.
France: 13,476 Armenians; 1,797 non-Armenians.
Georgia: 9,917 Armenians; 1,049 non-Armenians.
Lebanon: 6,016 Armenians; 828 non-Armenians.
Canada: 5,598 Armenians; 373 non-Armenians.
Belgium: 4,565 Armenians; 313 non-Armenians.
Iran: 4,440 Armenians; 441 non-Armenians.
Germany: 3,748 Armenians; 522 non-Armenians.
Argentina: 3,547 Armenians; 966 non-Armenians.
Netherlands: 2,962 Armenians; 230 non-Armenians.
Ukraine: 2,885 Armenians; 416 non-Armenians.
Spain: 2,473 Armenians; 291 non-Armenians.
Greece: 1,747 Armenians; 187 non-Armenians.
United Kingdom: 1,664 Armenians; 266 non-Armenians.
Austria: 1,223 Armenians; 51 non-Armenians.
United Arab Emirates: 1,174 Armenians; 205 non-Armenians.
Australia: 1,012 Armenians; 61 non-Armenians.
Syria: 1,010 Armenians; 83 non-Armenians.
Artsakh: 961 Armenians; 177 non-Armenians.
Cyprus: 872 Armenians; 77 non-Armenians.
Turkey: 795 Armenians; 410 non-Armenians.
Poland: 651 Armenians; 475 non-Armenians.
Switzerland: 611 Armenians; 156 non-Armenians.
Egypt: 425 Armenians; 85 non-Armenians.
Azerbaijan: 201 Armenians; 99 non-Armenians.
Nakhichevan: 100 Armenians; 33 non-Armenians.
Interestingly, there are a handful of Armenian participants in such unexpected places as: Mongolia, Northern Mariana Islands, Wake Island, Indonesia, Wallis and Futuna, American Samoa, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Antarctica, Libya, Algeria, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritius, Chad, Tanzania, Congo, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, Central African Republic, Maldives, Iceland, and Greenland.
To find out the results of the online march in your own country and city, please go to the interactive report: www.HyeID.org. You can also learn the number of participants near you by selecting the distance from your area. As the saying goes, “amen degh Hay ga” [Armenians are everywhere].