LOS ANGELES—After the 113 to 109 Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Utah Jazz on April 7, fans exited the Staples Center to find a group of Armenian Youth Federation activists staging a “die-in” demonstration to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide.
AYF members were silently sitting or lying on the ground just outside the Staples Center as thousands of attendees witnessed and held signs that brought attention to the issue of the Armenian Genocide. “We are here to educate the community of the atrocities perpetrated by Turkey during the first genocide of the 20th century, and to inform the public that proper justice, in form of restitution and reparation, has not been restored for the Armenian people,” stated Hakop Hajibekyan, co-chairperson of the AYF’s Hye Tad Committee.
Along with raising awareness, demanding restitution, and calling for reparations, the AYF has been working to advocate for the divestment of over $70 million of University of California (UC) funds from the government of Turkey. Since the movement’s inception, the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region also began working to divest over $500 million of California State funds from the government of Turkey, to ensure that taxpayer funds are no longer used to propagate Turkey’s denialist propaganda. The movement regained momentum last week after a meeting was held within the State Assembly over the new Divestment bill, AB1320.
The AYF’s next show of activism will be at the annual March for Justice, which will take place on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. outside the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles (6300 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048). The March for Justice is hosted by the Armenian Genocide Committee (AGC), which is made up of representatives of over 20 Armenian organizations and includes over 40 coalition partners that fight for justice and against the denial of the Armenian Genocide. The AGC calls on all community members to unite in show of solidarity and collective strength at the 2019 March for Justice.
Founded in 1933 with organizational structures in over 17 regions around the world and a legacy of over eighty years of community involvement, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the world, working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian youth.