AYF Western United States Members organizing a sudden die in at Staples Center in Los Angeles
On February 27, 2015 the Armenian Youth Federation of Canada along with the local Armenian Student Association organized a protest while speakers and genocide deniers held a lecture at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus.
More than 70 activists calmly stood up and turned their back during the lecture. Campus police were contacted but did not stop the silent protest, as it did not interfere with the event.
Members of the Armenian Youth Federation – Western Region of the U.S. held a die-in protest on March 1, 2015, in front of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Over 60 members from the Armenian Youth Federation lay flat on their backs with posters in their hands stating demands, quotes and other information regarding the Armenian Genocide. After the Lakers game finished, the attendees of the basketball game rushed out of the Staples Center to avoid the heavy rainfall, although many couldn’t resist stopping and taking a look at what’s going on.
On March 2, 2015, during a talk on “Secularism in Turkey and France” at the faculty of law at Paris Descartes University, a member of the Armenian Youth Federation of France “Nor Seround” protested Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide. The “Nor Seround” activist walked towards Ambassador Hakki Akil during the talk and threw a cup of pomegranate juice at Turkey’s Ambassador to France.
All of these different forms of protests happened within a span of four days and each one incorporated a different method of protesting.
The action taken on February 27, 2015 by the AYF of Canada was clear and directly aimed at genocide deniers. It was a silent form of protest but with the foe in the same room. Although, no form of direct communication was needed, they got their message across without subsequently negative consequences.
AYF Canada’s protest at University of Toronto, St. George Campus.
AYF Canada’s initiative was well received throughout the international Armenian community and quickly spread all over the social networks.
The die-in protest organized by the AYF-WUS held a more indirect approach. The main goal that it served was spreading information and awareness to the masses of Los Angeles, California. No foe was present at the setting, the activists were not hurting anybody, and the protest was peaceful from start to finish. It was a more unassertive approach to a protest against denialist policies held by Turkey and even the U.S. government. Nonetheless, the activists got their message across in both Los Angeles as well as the international community through social media. This form of protest along with the strategic planning of the setting possibly reached out to the most people who did not know anything about the Armenian Genocide.
AYF-France “Nor Seround” took a more radical route in their protest. They did not have 60 or 70 members at the place of the incident. All this form of protest took is one person. It had a clear and concise message. “Fascist Turkey! Justice for the Armenian people” was yelled by the protestor just after throwing pomegranate juice on the Ambassador which represented the blood that Turkey’s denialist regime has on their hands to this day. The news spread like wildfire all over social-media. Barely any negative comments and opinions were posted on the internet. Many praised the young Armenian from France and others even called him a hero.
There were other protests this week as well, all relating to the pogroms in Sumgait, Baku and Kirovabad against Armenians living in Azerbaijan. Two were organized by the AYF of South America (Union Juventud Armenia de Sudamerica), one in Buenos Aires, Argentina, another in Montevideo, Uruguay and also by the AYF of Holland.
The AYF of Armenia “HEM”, however, partook in the opposite of a protest. This group of young activists went to Artsakh with over a hundred members and showed support and solidarity with Artsakh’s population on the day which this atrocity is commemorated, February 27.
Ambassador Hakki Akil getting splashed with pomegranate juice by a AYF France “Nor Seround” member
The purpose of writing this article is not to compare and contrast different forms of protest. I believe that all of these initiatives were proven to be successful in their own ways; from raising awareness to the public by peaceful means, to a more radical condemnation on genocide deniers. I am genuinely happy for all of the protesters, activists and members that participated in all of last week’s events.
The most important thing to understand is how crucial these protests and acts of solidarity are. Whether they are silent, or loud and disruptive, it does not matter. What matters is that there is action being taken to reach our goals.
Many of these protesters do not understand how significant their roles were during these protests, but proof of these demonstration through pictures and videos on social media motivate the masses to their core. It gives people hope, whether they are living in the homeland or diaspora.
These protests are sparks; enough sparks will create a fire. Let’s create a fire strong enough to light through the Turkish denialist machine and shed light on the Armenian Genocide.
Join the movement, join the cause. It is imperative that we stand up to constant oppression and denial, together.