Tankian’s Message: SOAD vocalist speaks to crowd on Genocide during concert in Yerevan

Serj Tankian, the frontman of the System of a Down rock band that performed a free open-air concert in central Yerevan on April 23 night, spoke to the crowd towards the end of the live show marking the centennial of the Armenian genocide.

The 47-year-old Lebanon-born Armenian-American, in particular, spoke about his ancestors who, like millions of other Armenians, went through the horrors of the 1915 genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

“For the last few days I haven’t been able to sleep well. All I can think about is my grandparents,” said Tankian, adding that his grandmother survived only due to a Turkish mayor.

“The government of Turkey should be hailing these saviors as heroes instead of denying the obvious history,” he said. “My grandfather was five years old when he saw his own father die and lost his sight from hunger.”

Tankian went on to denounce as “appalling” the U.S. government’s failure so far to describe the mass killings and deportations of Armenians as genocide.

From the stage specially built for the concert in Yerevan’s Republic Square, just a few meters from Armenia’s main government offices, the Armenian American musician also leveled some criticism at Armenia’s political leadership, saying that it must finally start “getting rid of the institutional injustice” in the country.

“We are System of a Down and it is our responsibility to tell you these things and to rock you at the same time,” Tankian said.

Tankian is known to have criticized Armenia’s leadership also in the past. In particular, he engaged in an exchange of letters with President Serzh Sargsyan after the latter’s disputed reelection in 2013.