GLENDALE–On the morning of Thursday, October 8, a group of 7th and 8th grade Chamlian students had the rare experience to witness history, activism, pride, and struggle in action.
The students visited 34 Armenian Youth Federation protestors in the 56th hour of a hunger strike that was scheduled to last until midnight the following day. The protestors, congregated across from the Armenian Consulate in Glendale, were expressing their outrage at the planned signing of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols, which was signed by the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers in Switzerland on Saturday.
Chamlian students were able to provide encouragement and support, and join in the struggle of the protestors for the hour-long visit. Beyond a learning experience, this was truly an emotionally charged environment in which the young students were able to appreciate their cultural pride and understanding of what it means to truly take a stand for something one believes in. Many of the protesters were Chamlian alumni, a fact that particularly resonated with the students.
The group was accompanied by Chamlian Principal Vazken Madenlian and their Armenian teachers Ani Berberian, Vahan Mehrabian, Saro Nazarian, and Arax Zarzavatjian. In his remarks, Nazarian who spoke on behalf of the teachers, highlighted that this experience gave the students a great sense of their rights of expression. He mentioned that this protest is one of many steps in the long journey ahead. Madenlian addressing the AYF protestors and the Chamlian students expressed his reassurance in knowing that the next generation will continue to speak out in the face of adversity
Hundreds of people gathered together across from the Armenian Consulate in Glendale Tuesday evening, joined in solidarity with 34 young Armenians holding a hunger strike against the Turkey-Armenia protocols set to be signed on Friday.
The hunger strike, organized by the Armenian Youth Federation as part of the “Stop the Protocols Campaign,” kicked off Monday at midnight and will last for 96 hours until midnight Friday, when the Armenian Foreign Minister is scheduled to sign the document in Switzerland.
The protocols are also to be signed by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian on Oct. 13, when he is expected to visit Turkey to attend a soccer match between the Armenian and Turkish national teams. If signed, the document will require Armenia to relinquish all legal claims to historic lands occupied by turkey and bind it to an agreement to establish a historic commission to investigate the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. The protocols also contains a clause that bars Armenia from supporting the self determination of the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
“Were here to make our voices heard to the Armenian Consulate and the government in Yerevan because they have refused to listen to the Diaspora for far to long on this issue,” Berj Parseghian, the strike’s group leader, said reflecting on the global opposition to the protocols expressed by the Armenian Diaspora. “Our fasters, 34 strong, have an incredible resolve that motivates me every second of the day, especially when I stop to think about the dire circumstances our nation is facing today.
On Tuesday night, more than 400 people turned out to join the hunger strikers in a revolutionary song night with patriotic singer Karnig Sarkisian. The atmosphere was lively and the strikers hopes were high.
More than 200 people attended the opening ceremony Monday evening, kicking off the program with a candle light vigil in memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The strikers began the next morning making signs and preparing for a day of activities to raise awareness among bystanders and passerby’s in the area. With red tape over their mouths, the 35 youth chained themselves together and sat across the street from the consulate holding signs that said “Hunger Strike” and “Sarkisian Don’t Sign Armeno-Turkish Protocols.”
Reporters from the Los Angeles Times and Glendale Newsperess visited the site to cover the story.
The hunger strikers have also prepared a flier called “Read Between the Lines,” which presents the dangers of the protocols in plain English. They have been passing out copies for two days now. They are also calling the Consulate to tell them why they are opposed to the protocols and encouraging visitors and supporters who come by to make the same call.
Participant at the scene, as well as others from the campaign, have been providing live updates of the hunger strike through Facebook, twitter, and youtube. They are also video blogging the entire experience.
Later in the evening, the hunger-strikers and community supporters will join together in an “Open Mic Night” to express their thoughts on the Genocide, why they are personally out, and how these protocols endanger the cause for Justice for the Armenian people. Participants will read personal poems and statements, as well as testimony from genocide survivors, including letters from the recently deceased Ghazaros Kademian.
Thursday evening’s activities will revolve around raising awareness of the Nagorno-Karabakh liberation struggle. The protocols threaten the independence of Artsakh–an independence that was won through the sacrifice and martyrdom of thousands of Armenians.
The organizers anticipate the hunger strike will continue to draw broad based support from the community in the coming days until the conclusion of the demonstration on Friday.
LOS ANGELES, CA More than 12,000 Armenian Americans from throughout California converged on the Beverly Hilton Hotel to protest the
Turkey-Armenia protocols as Armenia President Serzh Sarkisian met with representatives of Armenian American organizations to defend his
decision to sign the flawed documents.
Blockades and guardrails contained protesters who held signs proclaiming, Serzh Dont Betray the Armenian People, Turkey Accept
the Genocide! and No to the Protocols! Meanwhile, planes overhead were carrying banners which stated Stop Turkish-Armenian Protocols, as large moving vans drove around the hotel with billboards picturing presidents Sarkisian and Gul with the slogan Dont Betray us. Prior to the beginning of the community meeting, Pres. Sarkisians delegation stood out on their 12th floor balcony and watched demonstrators, who called out in hopes that the President would address them directly. Pres. Sarkisian chose not to address the people.
During the fourth hour of the protest, several hundred frustrated demonstrators broke through the barricades and stormed across the
street to the hotel entrance, yelling votch, votch, stopping traffic on Wilshire Blvd. Meanwhile ARF Western Region Central Committee member Hovan Tashdjian, who had just left the meeting with the President, who had just left the meeting, described a tense Pres. Sarkisian faced with overwhelming opposition by representatives of Diasporan organizations, attempting to defend the formation of a so-called historical commission and arguing that the Protocols would not affect the Karabakh peace process.
Pres. Sarkisian has embarked on a Diasporan junket to gain support for the beleaguered Turkey-Armenia Protocols, which have met with
resounding rebuke by Armenians around the world. He has been met with protests in Paris, New York and Los Angeles, with additional
demonstrations planned in Lebanon and Russia.
For more information on the campaign against the protocols visit, http://stoptheprotocols.com
video coverage from the protest, watch www.horizonarmeniantv.com and check the youtube posts by the Armenian Youth Federation Western Region at www.youtube.com/armenianyouthfederat.
You can also follow the protests on twitter at www.twitter.com/asbarez and www.twitter.com/ayfwest
Full coverage of the Sarkisian meeting and the protests will be posted on Asbarez.com and www.stoptheprotocols.com