photo by jon nicholson

feature story - Board Member George Clooney to Present Inaugural Aurora Prize Today in Armenia

april 24th, 2016

Update: the award event has concluded. You can watch the full recording at the livestream link; Clooney's remarks begin at the 2:08 mark.

Board members George Clooney and John Prendergast are in Yerevan, Armenia today, where Clooney will present the inaugural Aurora Prize, honoring an individual who puts her- or himself at arisk to enable others to survive. The board members are likewise commemorating the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Watch the livestream of the award event here (beginning @ 1pm EST), and read Clooney's remarks below.

 

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Board Member George Clooney’s Remarks: Aurora Prize Ceremony

Years before anyone uttered the word genocide, there was Armenia. And although the actual word was yet to be introduced we were well aware of its characteristics.

Cruelty has always been at the core. Not self-defense. Not simply war. But the deliberate destruction of an entire people.

It happened to Armenians starting 101 years ago and we've seen it repeated all over the world since.

Germany. Cambodia. Bosnia. Rwanda.

I've seen it first hand in the broken limbs and broken families and broken hearts of the people of Darfur.

So I've seen what mankind is capable of at its worst. But I've also seen something else, something much stronger than hate.

I've seen bravery and kindness and incredible acts of love.

Tonight we celebrate the best examples of that.

The simple truth is that all of us here tonight, are the result of someone's act of kindness. The Clooney family fled a famine in Ireland to come to the United States where their very survival required a room, a meal, a helping hand.

We all stand on the shoulders of good people who didn't look away when we were in need. It might have been 101 years ago or it might have been last year.

If we are to survive as a people we simply can't look away.

Not from the people of Syria or South Sudan or the Congo.

We call them refugees, but they're just people, like you and me. And if you stand right in front of them and take a look deep into their eyes, you might just see an Irish farmer fleeing a famine or a young Armenian woman named Aurora looking for home.

We've all been given the gift of humanity at some time in our history.

Tonight's award celebrates heroism and bravery far beyond what most of us could do in a lifetime. And, our nominees didn't graduate from some hero school. They were just everyday people who saw a need and did something about it. Something extraordinary.

And so tonight we honor them. And in doing so we honor the million and a half lives that were lost 101 years ago.

And we honor those lives by calling their tragedy by its true name. Genocide.

The Armenian Genocide.

Hitler once famously said, "but who remembers Armenia?"

The answer is the whole world.

That's who.

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