"Wales remembers those who suffered in the Ottoman Empire of the early 20th century"
In an unprecedented gesture of solidarity, the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, sent the above message to the Armenians in Wales and their supporters in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
They had gathered on 23 April 2010 to pray for their lost ancestors at the memorial in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff, on land generously donated by the Welsh people and with local funding from the Torosyan family.
This was special too as the new Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Very Rev Vahan Hovhanessian who had arrived within the last month, offered the requiem (hokehankisd) prayers in his first of many visits to Wales, assisted by Deacon Stepan Ovanessoff. The community was honoured with the presence of Canon Chancellor Patrick Thomas, St David's Cathedral, Church of Wales, Rev Dr Trystan Owain Hughes, Anglican Chaplain to Cardiff University representing the Archdeacon of Landaff as well as representatives of the Baptist Union of Wales.
There was true fellowship between the churches, including the exchange of gifts, and all the people to remember all victims of all genocides.
The Welsh have been early and staunch friends of the Armenians for which we are so grateful
Also attending were two strong supporters of the Armenians in their fight for recognition, Jenny Randerson of the Welsh Assembly and Stephen Thomas of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs.
The First Minister's message timed to be read out at the commemoration is a remarkable milestone in Wales: First Ministers have not reached out on this way ever before.
This have been a good year with the January Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration in Cardiff including an Armenian priest, Der Shnork, saying prayers with the Armenian Genocide mentioned more than once in specific terms.
Work has already begun to consolidate this position and advance further in 2011: recognition requires year-long effort.
There was also an unexpected surprise that day.
The Primate and the organisers made a pilgrimage to a statue of the Virgin Mary of Penrhys, Rhonda where they were met by Sharon Rees, secretary and Christian worker of the church .
This statue has a remarkable history but the reason for the visit is that the United Reformed Church in this small village were the first to take the Armenians into their hearts.
This church devised a special service with its own liturgy in 1998 to commemorate the victims of the genocide.
This service will be researched and hopefully repeated in the presence of an Armenian and Welsh congregation.
Truly the Welsh churches have compassionate congregations.
Those in Penrhys deserve special praise of their support despite the community being in one of the most deprived areas in the UK.
The most active Welshman, Eilian Williams, was not present but represented by his daughter.
Eilian had decided to join the Human Rights Association of Turkey commemoration at the Istanbul station from where the Armenian intellectuals and leaders were sent to their death on 24 April 1915.
During the reception that followed, we received a message that over 100 persons had already gathered at the station despite the attentions of the authorities.
He then was to join the Turkish intellectuals at Taksim Square in an act of remembrance and atonement.
This demonstrates the calibre, humanity and integrity of the Welsh people and why they are such a bulwark for the Armenians.
We humbly salute their spirit.
Prayers at the Shrine of the Virgin Mary
Hokehankisd Prayers at the Temple of Peace Memorial
Exchange of Gifts
Celtic Cross Gift from Canon Patrick Thomas
who sees a clear design connection with a frieze
he has seen in Artsakh