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Ruben Vardanyan sends message to Aurora Prize candidates from Baku prison – Public Radio of Armenia

At the 2024 Aurora Prize award ceremony, Veronika Zonabend, wife of Aurora Humanitarian Initiative co-founder Ruben Vardanyan, read Ruben Vardanyan’s message from Baku prison. Veronika Zonabend’s speech is presented below:

“Dear guests and participants of the 8th Aurora Prize Ceremony, from Armenia, Yerevan,

I am here in the garden of the IDeA Foundation, created almost 25 years ago by Ruben and me, with our partners and friends. Aurora was born from these roots, founded by Noubar, Vartan and Ruben. Before reading Ruben’s message, I want to express my deep and sincere gratitude to all of you, the Aurora community, the leadership of Aurora, for your support and compassion. Having been imprisoned for over 200 days in Baku, Ruben and other Armenian prisoners were supported by you and you stood in solidarity with them, through your bold actions demanding their immediate and unconditional release. Most recently, during Ruben’s 20-day hunger strike, you raised your voice and that of the family, and that is invaluable. Thanks again.

Here is Ruben’s message: Baku Prison, 2024.

“In 2015, as the 100th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide approached, Vartan, Noubar and I, thinking about how to mark this fateful day, decided that we should not only honor the memory of those who perished during this catastrophe; we also wanted to express our gratitude to those who helped them and saved their lives.

We wanted to change the Armenian narrative from one of victimization and the past, to a new perspective: facing the future with hope.

We launched this initiative to express our gratitude on behalf of our nation, honor modern heroes, help them continue their hard work and promote good deeds. We dreamed of Yerevan becoming a global humanitarian capital, uniting as one nation with the Armenian diaspora scattered around the world following the genocide.

With Aurora, we are bringing international attention to the true heroes of today, those who risk their own well-being and lives, and who find faith and a way forward in helping others.

Through Aurora, I met people who taught me the most important lesson: to stay true to human values ​​and your own principles, regardless of the situation, and follow your path. My decision to move to Artsakh – Nagorno-Karabakh – was motivated by the heroes of Aurora: I made the choice to be with the people who needed help and I wanted to help them in any way I could. Being here, totally isolated from the world for almost eight months, I have a lot of time to think.

I have no regrets about taking this path. I am deeply grateful to you for inspiring me to do the right thing. Now I understand much better what motivates Marguerite Barankitse, Tom Catena and other Aurora winners, and why they strongly believe in the power of one individual to make a difference. There is simply no choice but to try.

Unfortunately, our world hasn’t become a kinder place because of your good work, but it does mean that what you do is more important than ever. Your commitment to helping others, in our common mission, gives me strength here. I am now more convinced than ever that values ​​and principles are more important than life itself.

I wish you every success in your mission and extend my warm congratulations to this year’s winners. I am convinced that together we can do a lot to make the world better and more respectful for everyone. As Marguerite likes to say, love always wins. So let love and values ​​prevail. Let us all be willing to give more than we hope to receive in return, and that each of us can make a big difference.