Last November, the Grammy Award-winning group System of a Down announced plans for a tour to mark the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
The tour, called “Wake Up the Souls” will kick off in Los Angeles on April 6 and after stops in London, Cologne, Germany, Lyon, France, Brussels, Amsterdam and Moscow the band will land at Yerevan’s Republic Square for a free concert on April 23.
System of a Down’s lead singer Serj Tankian told Asbarez that the tour culminating with a large free concert in Yerevan, where System of a Down has never performed, would be an appropriate commemoration of the centennial.
“We are also looking at televising the show in Armenia for free on the Internet worldwide so everyone can be with us in Republic Square in Yerevan,” he added.
Tankian asserted that “Wake Up the Souls,” is not meant to “just raise awareness [about the Genocide], but to be a conduit for justice.” The call to action, he explained, begins before the tour kicks off on an online community where people have already begun connecting to advance the message of the Genocide and universal justice around the world.
He has been encouraged by the signs of change among certain segments of Turkish society that “are doing amazing work trying to get recognition for the Armenian Genocide.”
“You’re well aware that as of a few weeks ago there was a resolution going through the Turkish parliament to recognize all past crimes from a female Kurdish member of parliament. Even though the AKP [Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party] controls the parliament and it will probably not pass, but that [the introduction of the resolution] is a good sign. I think we’ve come to expect little from the Turkish government, but I can say it’s up to us as well. There is an organization called ‘Project 2015’ that is encouraging people to go to Istanbul for 2015. I think that’s very interesting to go back to where it all started,” said Tankian.
While neither System of a Down nor Tankian have performed in Turkey, due to the Turkish government policy of Genocide denial, as well as its restrictions on freedom of speech, Tankian says that a large fan base in Turkey is active and whenever there are statements or misinformation in the local Turkish press, the fans have actively defended the musicians.
Tankian points out that official recognition of the Genocide has already happened in US with the passage of various congressional resolutions in the 1970s and 1980s and with President Ronald Reagan acknowledging the Genocide during his presidency.
He believes, however that, “it’s important to keep on the US State Department to correctly identify our relationship—US’s relationship with Turkey.”