On this day, 29 years ago, 5 young men took their last breaths in a sacrifice that would rock the world.
In the early 1980s, the entire world seemed apathetic to the Armenian cause, with the question of genocide consistently brushed aside in diplomatic forums and a systematic campaign of denial by the Turkish authorities underway. As the Lisbon 5 characterized it, the wall of silence surrounding the Armenian Genocide had become so thick in all four corners of the world that the only way to penetrate that wall was to make the ultimate sacrifice for one’s country. On July 27, 1983, five member of the Armenian Revolutionary Army, known as the Lisbon Five, stormed the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon demanding the world remember the plight of their people and the struggles faced by the descendants of the survivors from the genocide in 1915. The Ambassador’s residence was under siege for an hour and a half before the bomb was detonated. 7 were killed in the blast, including the ambassador’s wife, a Portuguese bodyguard, and the young martyrs of a nation they sacrificed their lives for.
A type-written message signed by the Armenian Revolutionary Army delivered to The Associated Press office in Lisbon said: “We have decided to blow up this building and remain under the collapse. This is not suicide, nor an expression of insanity, but rather our sacrifice to the altar of freedom.” The group said the attack had been carried out because “Turkey and its allies refused to acknowledge the genocide of Armenians”.
From the documents found in the hotel rooms, the police identified the five as Setrak Ajamian, 19 years old; Ara Kuhrjulian, 20; Sarkis Abrahamian, 21; Simon Yahniyan, 21, and Vache Daghlian, 19 (known in Armenian sources as “The Lisbon five”). They were buried in Beirut at the Armenian national cemetery in Bourj Hammoud.