Five Armenian Heroes Sacrificed Their Lives for Genocide Recognition

On the morning of July 27, 1983, Five Armenian heroes from Lebanon, members of the Armenian Revolutionary Army, headed to the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal.

Sako, Simon, Vathce, Aram, and Setrak. They had plans to take over the Embassy, have the ambassador hostage, and put some pressure on the Turkish Government for Genocide recognition. They lost their lives when their plans took a wrong turn.

“We have decided to blow up this building and remain under the collapse. This is not suicide, an expression of insanity, but our sacrifice to the altar of freedom.”

Lisbon 5, Sako, Simon, Vatche, Aram, Setrak

They only wanted to tell the world that the spirit of Vartan Mamigonian, Soghomon Tehlirian, and others still lives in the hearts of Armenians.

The 5 members of the Armenian Revolutionary Army of Lisbon

They were descendants of the Armenian Genocide survivors, who had found refuge in the Governorate of Lebanon. These survivors had witnessed the birth of the Republic of Lebanon and became citizens. They had helped build Lebanon and became part of the 18 Religious Sects.

Soon after, a civil war broke out in Lebanon. Armenian men and women defended their neighborhoods and streets. They wouldn’t accept going through another deportation or migration. They wouldn’t let war collapse what they had built after arriving on Lebanese soil.

Unfortunately, this war was one where a brother fought against a brother, Lebanese against Lebanese. It caused great heartache to Armenians because they wanted to live peacefully and prosper.

As Lebanese Armenians, they were witnessing The Lebanese burn their own Land. Armenians didn’t interfere in the war; instead, they played a vital peacekeeping role among their fellow Lebanese. Armenian heroes in Lebanon defended their neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Armenia was still under USSR rule, and the Armenian spirit was almost prohibited. People had long forgotten about Genocide, or at least couldn’t speak of it, because it could’ve contradicted the USSR Policies.

Lisbon 5
Lisbon 5

‘I am proud to be born an Armenian because I will die an Armenian. I am glad about this Act. The life we live now is nothing but real life. We live under the Rule of others; we have become poppets of others…”

Simon Yahniyan

“I ask my friends who have grown up with me in the same environment. Those of you have attended the same places together and done the same things together. Be convinced of this one thing, and not say family, life, and future. Without our motherland and soil, there is no future, no life, and there could be no Family…”

Ara Kurjalian

“We are a Nation, an old one, and it’s our right like other nations to live on our own soil. We want to see our nation living peacefully, living in tranquility, in our own Land, worried only about our own nation and upbringing the future generation…”

Vatche Daghlian

“I would like to tell the youth never to startle, no matter how stronger Turks are with their weapons and diplomacy… we are not the first to walk this way. So many have walked it before us, and I hope that much better people will come and do much better work than us…”

Setrag Ajemian

“As the song says: Yes!! We are Crazy, but figurative “Crazy”… Join us; I believe we will be the masters of our country…

Sarkis Aprahamian

Primary Demand of ARF Lisbon 5: Armenian Genocide Recognition

“We have decided to blow up this building and remain under the collapse. This is not suicide, an expression of insanity, but 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.” A type-written message signed by the Armenian Revolutionary Army was delivered to The Associated Press.Opens in a new tab.

Ara Kurjulian, Sarkis Aprahamian, Setrak Ajemian, Simon Yahniyan, and Vatche Daghlian sacrificed their lives for freedom to the God of Justice. They didn’t want to be remembered as suicide bombers.

They wanted to deliver a message to the world. The Lisbon 5 ended their lives under the ruins of the Turkish Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal, before turning their guns against the local police.

Lisbon 5 Attack, Terrorism, Sacrifice or Heroism?

5 Armenian Heroes left behind their lives, families, and future. They had this deep pain in their hearts, never forgot the Genocide, and wanted future generations to have their own freedom.

They took it on their shoulder to shout to the world and to remind them of our demands and rights. And they inspired generations to fight for Artsakh and do better.

The Turkish Government considered it a Terrorist attack, while Armenians considered it a Sacrifice. The ARF and AYF consider them martyrs and heroes.

We must acknowledge their sacrifice and continue existing and passing the torch from generation to generation. The AYF members remember them every year, but every young Armenian should recognize their sacrifice.

On July 27 of each year, let’s remember our Armenian Heroes, The Lisbon 5, and say a little prayer for them.

“… we have planned this Act because 60 years after the Genocide, we have concluded that neither Europe nor others, even if they talk about peace, don’t practice it…

In the 1st Genocide of the 20th Century, the Turks exterminated one million and a half Armenians and deported us from our lands.

Today they are trying to show the opposite. Armenians have not been exterminated, but Turks… It is us who have been deported from our Lands…”

Vatche Daghlian

Lisbon 5 Song Lyrics and Translation by Karnig Sarkissian

Լիզպոն Հինգի Յիշատակին

Ահա այսպէս արշաւեցիք,
Լիզպոն զոհուած լաւ ընկերներ
Որ աքթովը կը կոչուիք,
Դրոյի ժառանգ վեհ խենթեր։

Այս կռուի փայլուն ասպետներ,
Ռոստոմեան լոյսի մարտիկներ,
Յանուն ազգի ազատութեան,
Պայթեցուցիք սուրբ հինգ սրտեր։


Ի՞նչ սփոփանք անզօրներուն,
Մխիթարանք հայ խղճերուն,
Կան զոհերուն նոր անդունդէն,
Պայծառացող տիպարը ձեր։

Դէմքերը ձեր կ՝ազնուանան,
Կը տանչեն սրտեր անպայման,
Բայց միշտ ծանր է մեր սրտերուն,
Յուշն է Եռագոյն ձեր կամքերուն։

Ով մահուան յաղթող Դումաններ,
Երկաթ սրտով նոր Չաւուշներ,
Կ՝երդուենք անբիծ պատուովը ձեր,
Ընդարձակել պայքարը մեր։

Lisboni 5 Dghots Yerkuh

Aha aysbes arshavetsik,
Lisbon zohvadz lav ungerner
Vor actovuh tser ge gochvik
Troyi jarank veh khenter

Ays grvi payloun asbedner,
Rosdomian houysi mardigner,
Hanoun azki azadoutian,
Baytetsootsik sourp hink srder.

Inch espopank anzorneroun,
Mkhitarank hye khughdjeroun,
Kan zoherou nor antounten,
Baydzaratsnogh dibaruh tser.

Temkeruh tser gaznuvanan,
Ge danchen srder anbayman,
Payts mishd dzanuruh mer srderoun
Houshn eh kerakouyn tser gamkeroun.

Ov Mahvan haghtogh Toumanner,
Yergat srdov nor Chavoushner,
G’ertvenk anpeaghdz badvovuh tser,
Untertsagel baykaruh mer.

In Memory of Lisbon 5

This is how you invaded,
Good comrades sacrificed in Lisbon
for you Act, you are called
descendants of Tro, Majestic fools.

Bright Nights of this war,
Hope warriors of Rosdom.
In the name of the freedom of our nation,
You blew up 5 holy hearts.

What solace to the weak,
solace to Armenian conscience?
from the Abyss of sacrifice,
there is your radiant example.

Your faces become kinder,
they surely torture hearts,
but the burden of our hearts
It’s the memory of your will.

“Touman”s, who defeated death
“Chavoush” es of Iron hearts,
we vow with your clean honor
to expand our fight,

Media Coverage of the Turkish Embassy Attack

7 DEAD IN LISBON IN ARMENIAN RAID

The New York Times,  on July 28, 1983

Gunmen identified as Armenians stormed the Turkish Ambassador’s residence here today and, after keeping Portuguese policemen at bay with gunfire for an hour and a half, blew it up. Seven people died in the attack – five gunmen, a hostage, and a policeman who had entered the residence during the siege.

The hostage was identified by Turkish Embassy officials as Cahide [email protected], the 42-year-old wife of the charge d’affaires. Her 17-year-old son was also taken hostage but escaped with a gunshot wound in the leg by leaping off the first-floor balcony of the blazing building shortly after the explosion. A second policeman was also wounded.

Four gunmen died in the explosion. The fifth had been shot and killed in the opening moments of the attack. A little-known Armenian group, the Armenian Revolutionary Army, said in a typewritten note delivered to news agencies here that it was responsible for the assault. The note arrived after the attack had begun.

It was the third act of terrorism claimed by Armenian extremist organizations in the last two weeks, marking a sudden upsurge in what they assert is a campaign to avenge massacres by the Turks under the Ottoman Empire and to gain self-determination for the Armenian people.

On July 15 a bomb exploded in a suitcase at a Turkish Airlines check-in counter at Orly Airport in Paris, killing seven people and wounding more than 50. A group calling itself the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia said it had planted the bomb, and French policemen are holding a 29-year-old Syrian citizen of Armenian descent who they say has confessed.

The day before the Orly bombing, the Armenian Revolutionary Army – the group involved in the attack here – said it had been responsible for the shooting death of a Turkish diplomat, Dursun Aksoy, in Brussels.

In the note delivered today to the offices of Reuters and The Associated Press, the group said it had turned to ”armed struggle” because peaceful means for ”the pursuit of our just cause” had failed. ‘

‘The wall of silence built around our cause was too thick to be pierced,” it said.

The note ended: ”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 blast, apparently from explosives carried into the two-story, concrete-and-glass residence by the gunmen in what witnesses described as a large leather bag, wrecked the building and set it ablaze. Tried First to Take Embassy
Witnesses said the gunmen originally tried to seize the embassy, set back from the tree-lined Avenida de Descobertas in the exclusive Restelo suburb of Lisbon. But they were driven off by gunfire from a Turkish security guard, who shot and killed one of them, and ran down a cobbled driveway to take the Ambassador’s residence instead.

The family of the charge d’affaires, Mustafa Mihcioglu, had moved into the house only recently for reasons of security. The Ambassador, Ismail Soysal, had completed his tour of duty and returned to Turkey on July 17.
Witnesses said the gunmen arrived at about 10:30 A.M. in two cars, a red one that remained out front and a white Ford Escort that entered the driveway. The Ford Escort aroused the suspicions of a Portuguese security guard because it had been there the day before.

On that occasion, according to Turkish Embassy sources, two men emerged from the car. When challenged by the Ambassador’s bodyguard, they said they had come for visas. But when asked to produce their passports, they left hurriedly. Turks Asked for Extra Protection
Because of this incident, the Turkish Embassy requested extra police protection from the Portuguese authorities, the sources said. One additional policeman was stationed on the road outside early today.
The Turkish bodyguard was alerted by the Portuguese security man when the white car returned today. As he approached it, an exchange of gunfire took place.

One gunman died on the spot and a policeman was wounded by submachine-gun fire.

The gunmen then regrouped to take the nearby residence, where they found their hostages. A force of some 170 riot policemen surrounded the building, cordoning off the area and hiding behind cars and trees to avoid sporadic gunfire from within. One report said the gunmen had threatened over the telephone to blow up the building if the police tried to retake it.

What happened next is not altogether clear, but at about noon an explosion occurred. It was followed by two or three lesser explosions, witnesses said, and the building went up in flames. Cabinet in Emergency Session

The Portuguese Cabinet, under the new Prime Minister, Mario Soares, went into an emergency session during the siege and decided to send in an elite police detachment, the Special Operational Group. It was the first time that this British-trained force, which was formed last autumn, had been used.

The group began an assault on the burning building at 1:40 P.M. and found five bodies on the upper floor. One of them turned out to be a policeman, identified as Manuel Pacheco.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said later that the policeman, who was familiar with the embassy, had rushed to the scene after hearing about the attack over his radio. He climbed into the room where the gunmen had taken refuge, the spokesman said. Whether this might have prompted them to detonate the explosion could not be determined.

The ministry said later that the two cars were filled with food and explosives, suggesting that the gunmen had laid in preparations for a long siege.

The last attack on Turkish diplomats in Lisbon occurred in June 1982. Then the commercial attache, Erkut Ackbay, was shot and killed outside his home. His wife was wounded in the attack, for which Armenian terrorists claimed responsibility.

One embassy official theorized that the terrorists had chosen Lisbon because it was ”an easy target.” The embassy, built 10 years ago, has seven full-time employees.

Araz Tavitian

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