A Fiery Message from the Youth: We Determine our Future
BY GAIANEH AVANESSIAN
LOS ANGELES For the first time in recent history, the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide coincided with Easter, but this did not deter community members from participating in the annual April 24 protest in front of the Turkish Consulate. An estimated 5,000 people poured onto the streets to march and voice their ancestral anguish for the 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered at the hands of Ottoman Turks, as well as demand just reparations and recognition owed to the Armenian people.
As a community and as citizens who care for human rights, we must stay unrelenting against the perpetration of genocide in all of its forms, said Serouj Aprahamian, Executive Director of the Armenian Youth Federation. That is why were here today. We are making a clear statement that we will ramp up our activism until justice is achieved for the unpunished crime of genocide committed by the Turkish government.
As the crowd swelled, the Los Angeles Police Department was forced to close down a portion of Wilshire Blvd. in order to allow the masses of protestors to move into the street. Armenians and non-Armenians alike, of all age groups representing generations of history, marched and chanted in unison.
Javier Hernandez, a Mexican-American born and raised in Glendale, was protesting alongside his Armenian friends. Im here to support my Armenian friends because genocide is not just an Armenian issue, its a human rights issue and everyone deserves justice, said Hernandez.
AYF member Tro Krikorian echoed the same sentiments in his speech given in Armenian, as he addressed the sea of people gathered directly in front of the entrance to the building housing the Turkish Consulate. Krikorian noted that the denial of the Armenian Genocide creates a perpetual cycle of genocide around the world that must be stopped.
Days earlier, more than 1,200 Armenian-Americans gathered in Culver City to demand that President Obama honor his promise and recognize the Genocide. The community had also urged Obama to visit the Montebello Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument during his visit.
Instead, the president responded with a statement on April 23, referring to the events of 1915 as Medz Yeghern, once again falling short of honoring his promise to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Razmig Sarkissian, an AYF member from Montebello, passionately voiced the frustration many Armenians share as a result of Obamas unwillingness to properly refer to the crime as genocide. We voted for change, not your indifference. Stand up and honor your pledge. Stand up and recognize genocide, shouted Sarkissian.
Among the crowd, there was an unprecedented number of youth, ranging from 5 to 17 years old, holding up signs and exercising their right to speak, and be heard. Sarkissian addressed this crowd, specifically, as he exclaimed, We must [keep pushing this movement forward] because we hold the pen that writes history, and the ink that floods that pen is our collective strength, our perseverance, and our relentless refusal to back down.
The protest concluded with the Western Prelacys Father Bartev Gulumian leading a requiem service, addressing the uniqueness of Easter falling on April 24 and motivating the youth to continue to fight towards justice for the Armenian people.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization in the United States, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.