ENCINO, CALIFORNIA More than 400 community members took part in a bike-a-thon Sunday to commemorate the Armenian Genocide during the Cycle Against Denial, an event organized by the Armenian Youth Federation San Fernando Valley Sardarabad chapter.
Cycle Against Denial began and ended at the Holy Martyrs Armenian Church on White Oak Avenue. The participants ranged in ages 5 to 73, with Eric Josephbeks 5-year old in a bike trailer behind him to 73- year old Antranik Baghdasarian, a repeat cyclist.
AYF Valley Sardarabad Chapter member Aline Karakozian explained that this event is geared towards the community, to raise awareness about the cycle of genocide and create activists in promoting the end of genocides worldwide. Last year the cyclists went another route; this year we decided to gain more exposure, cycle past a different group of people to educate them about genocide as well.
The mob of people cycling down White Oak, Victory, Sepulveda and Ventura Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley caused for traffic to build up with the individuals driving by continually asking questions about why these individuals were riding.
Karakozian went on to explain the bonding experience the event created. All these individuals came out to support one cause and they are all from different backgrounds. Nearing the end of the bike ride everyone is exhausted, attempting to motivate each other to continue, creating a bond that forces each and every person to finish.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), with chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization. Inspired by the past and motivated by the needs of the future, the AYF actively strives to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of all Armenian youth.
LOS ANGELES–The Armenian Youth Federation is gearing up for its seventh annual Little Armenia Beatification Project when hundreds of volunteers are expected to mobilize in a unified effort to once again revitalize the streets of Hollywood. Among the most highly anticipated events in the Armenian community in South California, the project is set to take place this Sunday, May 2nd.
With Los Angeles home to one of the largest Armenian communities outside the Republic of Armenia, the Little Armenia Beautification Project, organizers say, has become an effective way for the youth to give back to their community in what many Armenians call their “home away from home.”
According to estimates by the City of Los Angeles Sanitation Department almost 30,000 pounds of trash have been removed from the streets thanks to the efforts of dedicated Armenian youth. Much like last year, event volunteers will be removing trash from the streets, planting trees and removing graffiti, in a concentrated effort to beautify the area.
The opening ceremony will commence at 10:00 am at the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, located on Alexandria Ave. Before hitting the streets, volunteers will participate in a formal program that includes an address by California State Assembly Member Kevin de Leon and other honored guests. The clean-up will last until 3:00 pm.
Committed to engaging Armenian youth in the Little Armenia community, the AYF Hollywood Musa Dagh Chapter is hosting this year’s organized cleanup. To chapter Chairwoman, Maria Maadanian, the Project serves many purposes. Little Armenia is symbolic to us all as Armenians living in the Diaspora, said Maadaanian. It is our responsibility to give back to the entire Hollywood community by making it a cleaner and better place to live.
It’s our home away from home and it is our job to respect it, and take care of it, any way we can, she added.
Every year, for the past six years, the AYF has rounded up Armenian youth from across California and the western United States to give back to this community. This one-day campaign has also attracted volunteers from Arizona, Nevada and Texas to make the trip to Los Angeles and help the AYF remove thousands of pounds of trash from the streets in Little Armenia.
With chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization. Inspired by the past and motivated by the needs of the future, the AYF actively strives to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of all Armenian youth.
LOS ANGELES, CA Over 700 people crowded into the El Rey Theatre on Saturday April 24 for a social justice concert featuring community artists Viza, Element, R-Mean and the Dirty Diamond. The concert, which capped off a day of emotional commemorative events throughout Southern California, will benefit the Armenian Relief Societys Armenia-Artsakh Orphan Project and the Birds Nest Orphanage in Lebanon.
The annual Silence the Lies! Rock the Truth! concert, now in its second year, is dedicated to exposing the denial of the Armenian Genocide and raising awareness of this crime against humanity. This year the event was co-hosted by the AYF-WR and ANCA-WR, along with Serjical Strike Records, Knoup Presents, Alpha Gamma Alpha Sorority and the AGBU.
April 24, 95 years ago is not just a day for us to commemorate the Armenian Genocide, said Arek Santikian, Chairman of the AYF-WR, who took to the stage to address the crowd. It is a day for us to stand up, silence the lies, rock the truth, because 95 years later, we as Armenians are still here, and we will continue to be here day in and day out, year after year.
The concert took place hours after more than 10,000 Armenian-Americans poured out onto the streets as part of an AYF-organized protest that forced the closure of Wlishire Blvd at McCarthy Vista. Many participants from the protest headed directly down Wilshire following the demonstration to stand in line for the concert.
Emotion filled the El Rey the entire night, as the sell-out crowd relentlessly cheered for the artists and various speakers. Andrew Kzirian, a member of headlining band Viza and long-time activist, explained the importance of commemorating culture and activism. Events such as this speak out to the youth and to the public very clearly, especially when the messaging is so significant to the Armenian people, said Kzirian.
Kzirian said the mission of the concert is to bring socially conscious people together to celebrate culture, life, activism and justice. Last year, organizers donated proceeds to the Orran Charity, which works to prevent the spread of destitution and begging among Armenias children and elderly.
With chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) has grown to become the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization. Inspired by the past and motivated by the needs of the future, the AYF actively strives to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of all Armenian youth.
LOS ANGELES–More than 10,000 community membersmainly youthheeded the call by the Armenian Youth Federation and protested Turkeys continued denial of the Armenian Genocide in front of the Turkish Consulate Saturday, forcing the closure of Wilshire Boulevard.
The orderly crowd marched in front of the building housing the Turkish Consulate, chanting slogans and waving the Armenian tri-color.
AYF Central Executive Chairman Arek Santikians impassioned remarks directed at the Turkish authorities and addressing the USs continued denial of the Genocide asserted the Armenian peoples continued commitment to fight for justice. The incredible youth presence also reinforced that the new generation is as actively engaged in the pursuit of the Armenian Cause as those that came before it.
When Santikian began naming the countries that have already recognized the Armenian Genocide, flags of the those countries were raised by members of the AYF who were lined up in front of the U-Haul truck that served as a podium and a stage.
Santikian went on to indict President Obama for, once again, failing to use the word Genocide in his annual statement. Elected officials, Santikian said, must serve the interest of their constituents, first, and not foreign governments, alluding that the Obama Administration, like other before him, was giving in to Turkish pressure.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian also echoed Santikians statements in calling on the Obama Administration to recognize the Armenian Genocide. He commended the gathered for their continued pursuit of justice. He also acknowledged the Los Angeles Police and Fire departments for their role in ensuring the safety of the crowd.
Community activist and former AYF CE chairman Mikael Melkonian also made comments in Armenian.
The developments of last year and the increasing vitriol of late by the Turkish leadership propelled a more vocal expression of protest on the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. This years demonstration was, by far, one of the more impressive both in its organization and in attendance of recent years.
Wilshire Blvd. Shut Down on April 24 as Thousands Converge on Turkish Consulate in LA
LOS ANGELES–Wilshire Blvd. at San Vicente and McCarthy Vista was shut down on Saturday April 24 as thousands rallied in the street across from the Turkish Consulate to demand justice and recognition for the Armenian Genocide after 95 years of cover up from the Turkish government.
The demonstration, organized by the Armenian Youth Federation, came hours after President Barack Obama refused, for a second time, to uphold his campaign pledge and properly characterize the crime committed against the Armenian people as Genocide.
Angered and feeling betrayed by their president, Armenian Americans called on Obama on Saturday to lift the foreign gag-rule imposed on US policy by the Turkish government and its hired lobbyists. Demonstrators also criticized Turkey for its 95-year campaign of genocide denial, which has been intensified in recent years as a response to a growing movement for genocide recognition both in and out of Turkey. Activists also derided the failed Turkish-Armenian protocols and threats by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to deport Turkey’s Armenian population if efforts to win US recognition of the genocide do not end.
Speaking at the event were AYF-WR Chairman Arek Santikian, ARF Activist Mico Melkonian, and LA City Council Member Paul Krekorian.
We present photos and video footage below:
AYF Chairman Arek Santikian speaks about the urgency and force of a new generation seeking justice for the Armenian Genocide
KTLA Channel 5 coverage of the protest featuring AYF member Vache Thomassian
An Areal View of the Protest shot from the top of a U-Haul Truck
LA City Councilmen Paul Krekorian Speaks at April 24 Protest
AYF Member Tro Krikorian Discusses Worldwide Movement for Armenian Genocide Recognition
Nareen Melkonian talks about her personal fight against Armenian Genocide denial
Protesters close down Wilshire Blvd.
Street Footage from the protest
ANC Activist Vicken Sonentz Papazian talks about importance of commemorating Genocide 95 years after crime
Time For US Government to Recognize Genocide, Says ANC-WR Chairperson Aida Dimejian
AYF Chairman Arek Santikian speaks to sold out crowd at Silence the Lies! Rock the Truth! benefit concert
Armenians Remember the Pain and Will Continue to Struggle for Genocide Recognition
Jim Lafferty from KPFK speaks on Armenian Genocide at AYF Silence the Lies Benefit Concert
In its continuing effort to expand its reach, Horizon Armenian Television has held discussions with Time-Warner Cable officials in order to include Horizon on its cable lineup of channels.
Time-Warner Cable reaches Armenian-American households in all of Hollywood (including Little Armenia), the San-Fernando Valley, Tujunga, Sunland, the South Bay and other communities where Armenians reside.
To demonstrate the need for Time-Warner Cable to allocate a dedicated-channel to Horizon, the Armenian-American community needs to speak up by taking part in a signature-drive campaign, which coveys the community’s interest and desire to include the channel in the cable company’s lineup.
You can help ensure Time-Warner Cable includes Horizon in its program line-up. Send a free WebFax to Vice-President of Programming Maureen Lane expressing your support for Horizon’s quality Armenian American programming. Simply type your name, address and contact information below and click “Send Message.”
The Armenian Genocide may have occurred 95 years ago, but for community members such as Tzolag Hovsepian, the atrocious crimes Armenians fell victim to remain burned in their mind’s eye.
“By the time our people reached the deserts of Syria, half had already died from starvation,” recalled Mr. Hovsepian, whose family fell victim to the death marches ordered by the Ottoman government. “They would gather us all and, one by one, kill us,” he added as he was flooded with the renewed grief of remembering the past.
Now in his 90’s, Mr. Hovsepian is still adamant about the need to take part in Armenian Genocide commemorative activities such as the AYF’s protest this Saturday in front of the Turkish Consulate.
He has made it his life’s goal to never forget the murder of his ancestors, and to strive to achieve justice for their memories. “From 1966 on, I’ve attended commemorations to pay my respects to the 1.5 million Armenians killed and I plan on attending again to lay a flower at the memorial in respect to my lost family members.”
In light of Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, Mr. Hovsepian heatedly explained that, “It was impossible on April 24, to gather all the Armenian intellectuals in one place without a premeditated thought.” On the eve of April 24, 1915, more than 250 Armenian intellectuals, including prominent Ottoman Parliamentary members such as Krikor Zohrab, were rounded up and murdered as part of the Turkish government’s plan to systematically eradicate the Armenian population.
“Several European countries have recognized the Armenian Genocide,” he continued, “This is because we have proof on our side. Look at the US National Archives, look at the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times from those years – the proof is there.”
To stand with Mr. Hovsepian and countless others who will honor the memory of our fallen this April 24, visit www.AYFwest.org.
Aprahamian and Hovsepian at the CSU Fullerton Social Justice Summit Resource Fair
FULLERTON, CA–The Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and Armenian National Committee (ANC) partnered up on Saturday, April 17th to present a workshop on the Armenian Genocide and its denial during the 2010 Social Justice Summit on the California State University, Fullerton campus.
The day-long event featured workshops on a range of social justice-related issues from the environment and labor issues to community quality of life issues and crimes against humanity. The event was organized by Students ACT-Students Advocating Civic Transformation and hosted by the Volunteer & Service Center.
“This was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide and its current consequences with individuals who are already passionate about social justice and how to effect positive change in their communities,” said AYF Western USA Executive Director, Serouj Aprahamian.
Aprahamian and ANC-Western Region Community Relations Director, Haig Hovsepian, partnered up to present an overview of the history of the Armenian Genocide and how the issue has been addressed on the international as well as the political stage in the United States over the past 95 years. They also discussed the evolution of Armenian Genocide denial and its impact on subsequent genocides including the current, ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan.
The Armenian National Committee-Western Region is the largest Armenian American grassroots community organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANC-WR works to promote understanding regarding issues of concern to the Armenian American community.
The Armenian Diasporan youth are always at the front lines when it comes to demanding recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but stories of the individual youths often goes untold. April 24 2010 marks the 95th anniversary of the beginning of a systematic operation committed by the Young Turks, which killed 1.5 million Armenians and the Armenian youth are mobilizing as they always do.
Talar Kakilian, a member of the Armenian Youth Federation, an activist for the Armenian National Committee and recent winner of the AYF “Nanor Krikorian” Scholarship is one out of the multitude of young Armenians who are dedicated to achieving recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
“I continue to fight for genocide recognition out of respect for my ancestors who were tortured, beaten, and murdered, and yet, still denied justice. I feel it is my duty to my ancestors to fight on their behalf until their story is heard,” she told Haytoug. “Also, by recognizing the first genocide of the 20th century, we will one day, hopefully, be able to prevent further genocides.”
Kaklian’s great-grandfather survived the genocide through extraordinary circumstances, but had to endure many hardships, as many others did. As the Turkish gendarmes had all the Armenian men lined up in the city square he escaped with the soldiers following him. Spotting a house, he quickly ran in and asked for help; the Greek man hid him in a ditch covered with wood for three days, until after they were sure that the Turks had left. On her mother’s side, Talar’s grandfather had to watch his father get beheaded, his baby sister murdered, his older sisters taken away, and his mother die of trauma. All alone, he was forced to march through Der-Zor until one day he finally escaped and found refuge near an old Arab widow.
“Throughout the year I am able to get my voice heard through various projects I take on; I keep my culture alive through teaching Armenian history to younger Armenian students, but the annual protest is the one day of the year when I get my frustrations out,” Talar said. “I am able to yell; getting the frustration I feel all year out through simply chanting in unison with Armenians and non-Armenians alike.”