LOS ANGELES – On the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, tens of thousands participated in Los Angeles’ March for Justice demanding justice for the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The April 24 march to the Consulate General of Turkey in Los Angeles was organized by the Armenian Genocide Committee—a coalition of groups the include the four denominations, the national political parties, as well as the most prominent relief, youth and advocacy organizations in the community.
The march began at Pan Pacific Park, adjacent to the Holocaust Museum and spanned for more than one and a half miles through the streets of Los Angeles to the Turkish Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard.
The event drew a massive audience of Armenian-Americans and non-Armenian onlookers who were interested and curious about the mass march/rally which resulted in several street closures in one of the busiest areas of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles City Council members, Paul Krikorian and David Ryu joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in addressing the tens of thousands waiting to participate in the March for Justice. Mayor Garcetti, who has been a steadfast ally to the Armenian Cause and the Armenian-American community for many years reiterated his commitment for the proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide, adding that all Armenians have an obligation and duty to watch “The Promise” and urge their non-Armenian friends and neighbors to do the same.
The March for Justice concluded into a rally in front of the Turkish Consulate. Among the public officials who addressed the crowd were Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, LA City Councilman Paul Koretz and President of the LA Unified School District Steve Zimmer.
The program began with the leaders of the four Armenian denominations leading the crowd into prayer, followed by Maria Cozette singing of the United States and Armenian national anthems.
Congressman Schiff, a fierce advocate and leader of the Armenian Cause in the House of Representatives delivered an impassioned speech about the importance of the United States government to recognize the Genocide so that future genocides do not prevail. “Genocide is not a historic relic — even today hundreds of thousands of religious minorities face existential threat from ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It is therefore all the more pressing that the Congress recognize the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide and stand against modern day genocide and crimes against humanity.”
Lieutenant Governor Newsom denounced Republican and Democratic presidents alike for declining to pressure Turkey to recognize and accept responsibility of the Genocide of Armenians. He went on to reiterate the State of California’s stance as a state that believes in truth and justice, “a State that believes the Genocide that happened to the Armenian people was an outrage and unconscionable act of inhumanity, not just the Armenian people.”
Masters of Ceremony Hrach Avedissian and Lara Armani skillfully guided the rally, which included remarks from the Armenian Genocide Committee by Silva Katchiguian, Raffi Hamparian and Armig Khodanian. The youth’s message was delivered by Rafi Orphali. The rally also featured musical performances by R-Mean, Joseph Krikorian, Armenchik, Maria Cozette, and Harout Pamboukjian.
Armig Khodanian’s Message
Dear members of the clergy, elected officials, supporters and friends of the Armenian Cause. We all know what transpired 102 years ago today. We all know the crime, the culprit and those who seek to contradict the facts behind the Armenian Genocide. We all know the importance to stand together as one, in solidarity to defeat those who are denying the pain, suffering and annihilation of our ancestors. The government of Turkey continues to conduct a well-funded campaign of Genocide denial as they spread their distorted history throughout the world. In recent years they have attempted to utilize paid journalist, sell out academics, as well as the entertainment industry as a counter weight for our advocacy and educational efforts.
Hell, they even funded not one but two major movies to combat our efforts and to contradict The Promise,…..two movies that flopped.
But ever wonder why successive Turkish Governments are attempting to deny a fact? Why deny the Armenian Genocide? Why deny something that started 102 years ago? Turkey knows there is no such thing as Turkish history without Armenian, Greek, Assyrian and Kurdish suffering. Yet, journalists, historians, and authors who speak about the very subject in Turkey are either imprisoned, as was the case of Sevan Nisanyan and countless others, or in the case of Hrant Dink, who was assassinated.
The Armenian genocide was an unprecedented event in the human history, but, regrettably, it was not the last genocide of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, it did not end within a few years. It endures well into the present day Republic of Turkey. Thousands of Armenian Cities, Towns, cultural institutions, Churches, prominent architecture and houses have lost their identity, have lost their soul, or even worse yet, are being openly lied about as originally being of Turkish origin. These actions are not just towards us Armenians, but also towards the Greeks, Assyrians, Kurds and other minority peoples of Anatolia.
Let us also not forget the Turkish funding of ISIS in carrying out such atrocities towards the Yezidis, Kurds and Christians within Iraq and Syria.
In recent years, there has been a small glimmer of a spark inside Turkey, primarily within progressives, minorities and intellectuals, that the Armenian Genocide is irrefutable. This small spark of hope is still in its infancy, and faces an increasingly authoritarian Turkish government. Today’s Turkish government is afraid; the geopolitical landscape is changing. Western governments have finally come to realize Turkey is not a Democratic nation, and most importantly not trust worthy. Turkey has, and continues to discriminate against its own citizenry, distress ethnic and religious minorities, and harass those, internally as well as externally, who have the courage to challenge the governments failed policies, including the policies of denialism.
The majorities within Turkey, either, buy into these policies, are blind towards these policies, or are too scared to act against an authoritarian regime.
That is the reason why successive Turkish Governments are attempting to deny the Armenian Genocide.
The present authoritarian government is no different, it knows once its own people realize that the founding members of the Turkish Republic are synonymous with the Hitlers, Stalins, and the Pol Pots of the world, that their ideology is synonymous with Nazism and Fascism, that their authoritarian methods are a rouse to keep the populace in check and enslaved to the regime, the fragile façade that is the Republic of Turkey would be shattered into pieces.
Unfortunately, President Trump, like previous administrations, refused to properly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as Genocide.
This is very disappointing. The office of the United States President, was once perceived as the leader of the free world, of hope, transparency, and democracy, yet President Trump has chosen to become a tool of denialist Turkey.
That is where we come in, that is where you come in. Educating more people about the Genocide, confronting denialists and history revisionists is key to ensuring that future generations are well-informed and aware of the truth. That is where our advocacy, our marches, rallies, educational seminars, books, documentaries, movies and music about the Armenian Genocide help grow the spark of hope within Turkey. A spark of hope that will grow into a flame of resistance, which will in turn garner a Turkish government who will have the courage to look inward and recognize the terrible deed of their ancestors, to recognize the Genocide of our ancestors. Come to terms with the guilt and the shame passed on to it by the Ottoman Empire and successive regimes, and reach a just solution to us Armenians, reparations of our lands, churches, schools and institutions, restoration of a strong and unified Armenian Nation.
Why does Turkey deny the Armenian Genocide?
Because, the government of Turkey is scared of the truth…The truth THAT IS the Armenian Genocide.