The Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Burbank Varak Chapter, Armenian National Committee of America- Burbank, Homenetmen Sipan Chapter and the Burbank High School (BHS) Armenian Club commemorated the 97th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at Burbank City Hall on April 24.The commemoration began at 6:00 pm with a remembrance program, led by Arvin Setaghaian, BHS Armenian Club member, during the Burbank City Council meeting. Araz Majnoonian and Naira Markaradi, members from the BHS Armenian Club, read a Genocide survivors testimony. Immediately following, a genocide awareness video prepared by the BHS Armenian Club and Burbank Varak AYF Chapter was showcased. The video emphasized the significance of recognizing past genocide to prevent future crimes against humanity from occurring. ANCA Burbanks Annette Kargodorian shared the story of how her fathers family survived the Genocide, by escaping the massacres and persecutions against the Armenians in Marash, a city now located in Turkey.
Congressman Adam Schiff was also present during the program. When commending the efforts of the Armenian youth for their commitment to their culture, Schiff stated, We see the success of the Armenian community and we see the failure of the Ottoman Empire. Their effort to wipe out a people was a terrible, tragic but miserable failure. The Armenian community, phoenix like has risen, from the brink of destruction to be a source of great pride.
Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes presented the City Councils proclamation in recognition of the Armenian Genocide. As a small token of appreciation, ANCA-Burbank presented the City Council with photographs of Armenian churches and landmarks from Western Armenia.
More than 350 community members joined the candlelight vigil on the front steps of Burbank City Hall, which was hosted by Talar Kossakian, AYF Burbank Varak Chapter member. The candlelight vigil began with a presentation of the colors by the Homenetmen Burbank Sipan Chapter and the singing of the American and Armenian national anthems by Nayirie Balian, Burbank AYF Varak member.
Various performances and speeches were made by members of the AYF Burbank Varak Chapter and the BHS Armenian Club. Ani Ovasapyan, a senior at BHS, called on the youth to unite in pursuit of the Armenian Cause. AYF Burbank “Varak” member, Nazeli Khodabakhsh read the poem “Ghoghanj Yeghernakan” by Barouyr Sevag.
Rouben Krikourian who spoke on behalf of the AYF Burbank Varak Chapter, attested that When we see the community come together to commemorate the Genocide, we discover our strengths as a whole and through unity and perseverance we know that we will never give up until we attain justice.
Longtime ANCA activist Stepan Boyadjian served as the keynote speaker for the evening, highlighting the need to remember the atrocities of 1915 and the need to commemorate the victims. The ARF Burbank Gaidzag Badanegan Chapter ended the program with a group performance of Armenian songs.
Silva Kechichian, ANCA-B chair commented If we do not recognize these past atrocities as genocide, we as a world are failing to stop this vicious cycle. A crime unpunished is a crime encouraged.