Carrying a box of AYF protest fliers to Glendale High.
The month of April is one of late night meetings, participating in events commemorating the victims of the Armenian Genocide every day; the word hectic does not even begin to summarize it.
“A normal day” consists of phone calls draining your cell phones battery, contacting people through e-mail, facebook, twitter and other social networking sites to update them on upcoming events that they should partake in. Sleep is not a priority as all hands are on deck to organize events commemorating the Armenian Genocide in the community.
Losing sleep and going to endless meetings does not even reach the magnitude of effort my ancestors put in to keep my family Armenian. Growing up I would sit with my cousins and listen to my great-grandmother Takouhi Sarkissian tell us of her family’s road to survival, along with the stories of death that she had to endure on the way. I clearly remember sitting there as a 10 year old listening to her tell my family about the story of my great-aunt buried in sand up to her neck then stoned to death. Twelve years later the stories are fresh in my mind and are the driving force behind the reason I care so much.
Cynics state that the Armenian Genocide was in 1915, we should forget about the occurrence and instead move on, but what they don’t understand is that I can not move past it because it was not a simple act it was a crime against humanity that attempted to wipe out an entire nation of people. “Every country had casualties” or “it was a result of deportations” are not excuses in my book for 1.5 million Armenians to be stoned, raped, starved to death; it is not a mark of a government attempting to help its people survive during World War I.
This frustration is the drive behind my need to work to educate individuals, to convince friends that 95 years have passed, but the issue is still one of great importance. 95 years is simply a number, the wounds are still fresh. My great-grandmother passed away in June 1997 knowing that her family would fight to avenge the suffering she was put through losing her entire family and seeing these occurrences as a child. I will be making my voice heard at the annual protest in front of the Turkish Consulate to show that I will never forget, never give up my fight.
News clipping from LA Times coverage of last year's Silence the Lies concert.
BY RAZMIG SARKISSIAN
The El Rey Theatre will be sold out Saturday April 24th as various Armenian bands including Viza, Element, The Dirty Diamond, and R-Mean join together for the “Silence the Lies, Rock the Truth” benefit concert, scheduled to start at 8:00pm.
“Music is our way of connecting with people and being able to get a message across to a wide range of audiences – especially human rights activists as it’s the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide,” explained Chris Daniel, Viza’s percussionist. “It’s the least we could do to give back to the people back home and for us to create not just an artistically powerful night but an experience of unity through our music.”
This year’s “Silence the Lies, Rock the Truth” concert will provide financial assistance to two important benevolent projects. The Armenian Relief Society’s “Armenia-Artsakh Orphan Project” and “the Bird’s Nest Orphanage” in Lebanon both provide vital support and assistance to needy Armenian children abroad.
“The donation of the money is both symbolic and practical in its importance,” Chris added, “It is a gesture of solidarity and support – something to help them get through difficult times and show everyone we do not forget those that need us.”
Through the various instruments he plays, Chris carries on his Armenian culture and history through his music. “I’d have to say speaking and connecting with the younger generation of Armenians feels fulfilling to me because I feel like I’m doing the great deed of what my elders had done for me. We as the youth and future leaders of our generation, we carry on our culture and history.”
Viza, formerly known as Visa, is a mix of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and Latin cultures. A nine person band, Viza demands the attention of its audience mixing joyous times with educating individuals about the past that they have not forgotten.
LOS ANGELES–The Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) appeared on KPFK 90.7FM radio Thursday evening at 7:30PM to speak about the Armenian Genocide, Turkey’s denial campaign and the community’s April 24 activities.
Speaking on behalf of the organization, AYF Executive Director Serouj Aprahamian highlighted community events marking the atrocity, from a memorial service at the Montebello Genocide Memorial, to a protest at the Turkish consulate and a benefit concert for Armenian orphanages.
“The AYF strongly believes in going out there to engage both the media and the broader American public on matters of human rights,” said Aprahamian. “We have to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide if we hope to attain justice for this crime and put an end to the cycle of genocide plaguing humanity.”
With chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the 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.
During the Armenian Genocide, my ancestors–the people of Musa Dagh–were one of the only groups who were able to fight back and defend themselves. Today, like my ancestors, I choose not to be an observer to atrocities and oppression. For me, working tirelessly to resist the same injustice which my forebears died for is not a choice, but a duty.
My maternal ancestors originated from Musa Dagh, a mountainous region on the Mediterranean coast. During the Armenian Genocide, the people of Musa Dagh were exiled from their homes and given only eight days to evacuate. They gathered all their weaponry and food, embarking on a climb to the mountaintops. The villagers protected themselves against the 200-person Turkish special army, because they were more experienced in the mountainous terrain. Although victorious in resistance, they soon ran out of living necessities and were forced to leave the mountains. They were saved by a French ship, who heard their plea for help. Despite promises that they would one day return to their homes, they never did.
Everyday is an ongoing struggle within the Armenian community. At times our own government gives up on our Cause because it is a difficult inner conflict to overcome. We are constantly faced with the choice to either accept the pain and let it slowly ware off, or work vigorously day in and day out for recognition. It is my personal choice to take the more difficult route, and work for my Cause rather then let the memory of my ancestors be forgotten and ignored.
In order to fight for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, I work yearlong within effective organizations such as the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and the Armenian National Committee (ANC) in informing the world about the atrocities of 1915 and the crimes still being committed by the Turkish government.
Recently, I have helped with the AYF’s annual April 24 protest in front of the Turkish Consulate. Thousands gather yearly in Los Angeles, to show that the Armenian people have not given up. Also, I work with the United Human Rights Council (UHRC), to help prevent other human rights violations from happening around the world today.
The struggle of my ancestors has encouraged me to fight for justice. When I look at my grandmother and the pain that will never go away, I am inspired to use that pain as a muse to work even harder against injustice.
As an Armenian, I am obligated to work for my Cause. But, as global citizens, we are all obligated to work for a more peaceful and stable world for our future generations to live in.
On 95th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide, New Generation Seeks Justice and Closure
LOS ANGELESThousands of protestors will descend upon the Turkish Consulate of Los Angeles this Saturday to demand recognition and justice for the first genocide of the 20th century. Fueled by Ankaras ongoing denial, Armenian Americans and anti-genocide activists will take to the streets to call for an end to over 95 years of Turkish impunity.
The demonstration is being organized by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and is set to begin at 4:00 p.m. on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and McCarthy Vista. Los Angeles City Council member Paul Krekorian will be one of several community leaders and officials who will address attendees at the protest.
This protest it is not just about commemorating the Genocide, said Caspar Jivalegian, one of the lead organizers of the annual protest. Its about saying 95 years is long enough. As youth, we want justice and an end to all genocides plaguing humanity.
This year marks the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which began on April 24, 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government. It comes just over a month after the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House adopted a resolution calling on the President to properly recognize the killings as Genocide. Turkey responded to the measure by recalling its ambassador from Washington.
Meanwhile, despite numerous campaign pledges, President Barrack Obama has backtracked on his earlier promise to speak truthfully about the Armenian Genocide. His administration has come out in opposition to the House resolution, with Secretary Hillary Clinton stating We do not believe that the full Congress will or should vote on that resolution and we have made that clear to all the parties involved.
The Genocide began in 1915 but it did not end there, said protest organizer and Chair of the AYF Arek Santikian. We feel it in our bones to this day because of Turkeys aggressive campaign of distortion and its blackmail of our representatives in the US Congress.
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.
On the eve of the ninety-fifth commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, Armenian-American youth remember the words of the then hopeful Presidential candidate Barack Obama: America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President. Yet, Mr. President, when the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res 252) on March 11, 2010 passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, members of your cabinet actively and publicly opposed the resolution, stating, We are against this decision the US Congress will not take any decision on this subject. During your inspiring campaign of hope and change millions of youth around the country became civilly active for the first time supporting your run for presidency. Your vision of government where politics will no longer intervene with human rights and injustice struck a chord with what young Americans envisioned for the future of this nation. With regard to the Armenian Genocide, it was thousands of American Armenians who rallied around your campaign in hopes their country would finally halt its complacency with genocide denial. Many first and second generation American Armenians became excited about a candidate who pledged to finally recognize the heinous crime their ancestors suffered almost one-hundred years ago. The youth and future of this nation remains troubled and confused. Your campaign pledge to rectify past struggles of human rights, genocide prevention, and morality remains unfulfilled. As evidenced by the continued genocide in Darfur, and the failure to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide, the cycle of Genocide continues on your watch. The promises of hope and change which once excited the human rights community in hindsight seem to only have been campaign rhetoric. Yet as much as the Obama administrations first year came and passed with disappointment, empty promises and even overtones of hypocrisy, the ability to bring change and fulfill your campaign promises remains on the horizon. This April 24th, Armenian Americans, from coast to coast, will take to the streets in protest of Turkey’s ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide and your administrations complicity in that crime. From Los Angeles to New York and Washington DC, young and old, will demand an end to Turkeys gag rule on their elected representatives and a return to a just and moral foreign policy based on proper recognition of crimes against humanity such as the Armenian Genocide. Once again, for yet another year, we ask you to stand by your campaign pledge and recognize the Armenian Genocide this April 24.
Horizon 180’s Paul Chaderjian has a lively discussion with AYF Western US Central Executive Chairman Arek Santikian and April 24th protest organizing committee member Shant Havanjian regarding this year’s Protest for Justice at the Turkish Embassy and “Silence the Lies: Rock the Truth” Concert featuring the band VIZA with proceeds assisting orphans in Javakhk and Armenia.
The ANCA on Horizon TV is a weekly segment aired Monday evenings 8:30pm to 9:00pm PST during the Horizon 180 news program. The program can be viewed live on Horizon TV in the Glendale, Burbank and La Crescenta areas on Charter Digital Channel 285 or streamed online at horizonarmeniantv.com
U.S. Republican Senate candidates Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore both said they believe the Armenian Genocide should be recognized during a town-hall debate on March 30 at Brandman University in Irvine, California.
During the townhall, the two candidates were asked where they stood on the issue by members of the Armenian Youth Federation’s Orange County ‘Ashod Yergat’ chapter.
The two candidates where asked whether they agreed that the Ottoman Turkish government committed a genocide against the Armenian people by AYF member Nora Goudikian, who’s question and the candidates’ responses were covered by Fox News in their nightly broadcast of the event.
In response to her questions, DeVore and Campbell agreed that history cannot be changed and that the genocide did actually occur. Both candidates spoke about of the modern day necessity for recognizing the crime and stressed that both of them are very well aware of the Armenian people and their concern over Turkey’s ongoing denial of the genocide.
Below is footage from the townhall covering both candidates’ responses to Gourdikian’s question.
Below is coverage of the town hall from Fox 11 News. The Armenian Genocide is mentioned 1 minute into the segment.
ENCINO, CAParticipants of all ages are invited to attend the 2nd annual Cycle Against Denial bike-a-thon hosted by the AYF San Fernando Valley Sardarabad Chapter at the Holy Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church (5300 White Oak Ave. Encino, Ca) on April 25, 2010 to raise awareness about the first genocide of the 20th century in which the Ottoman Empire massacred over 1.5 million Armenian in 1915.
The bicycle ride represents the continuous cycle of genocide denial that we [Armenians] encounter everyday living in the United States, explained Palig Demirjian, Chairperson of the chapters April-24th Committee. The never-ending circle of denial will not stop until individuals stand up for their rights and bring light to the fact.
The bike-a-thon, which attracted over 250 community members from across California last year, has been extended from 11 miles to approximately 14 miles. The extended route includes more stops throughout the city, is an attempt by the Sardarabad Chapter to broaden the scope of awareness raised by their unique event.
Cycle Against Denial is a time when we can all gather together for one cause, stand up, educate, and bring attention to the cause we fight for strongly, added Demirjian.
Check-in for the event begins at 11AM, during which all riders must register. The bike-a-thon is scheduled to begin peddling at 1:30PM. Participants can either bring their own bicycles or rent one on campus for $20. Those under the age of 18 must wear helmets.
In order to register please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Palig Demirjian at (818)445-4423.