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.