Armenians in Southern California Commemorate 101st Anniversary of Armenian Genocide

by Lori Bashian 0

Armenians from all around Southern California gathered by the tens of thousands to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and demanded justice from both the  American and Turkish governments.

On Sunday, April 24 over 60,000 Armenians gathered in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles and held the annual Rally for Justice.

The Rally for Justice was held to pay tribute to the roughly 1.5 million victims of the genocide and to demand recognition to the act by the Turkish government.

“It is is important to remember those who lost their lives and to continue to advocate for them to make sure their heroism and bravery is never forgotten,” said Vana Bashian member of the Armenian Youth Federation, an organization aimed at getting the Armenian youth involved in the Armenian community.

For the Armenian people April 24, 1915 marks the day where Armenian men, soldiers, and intellectuals were killed by the Ottoman Turks and the genocide began with the deportations and death marches of the elderly, women and children soon following.  

The discontent of the Armenian people stems from the repeated denial by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and those that came before him, that their ancestors committed genocide

President Erdoğan claims the death of the Armenians was a result of a civil war in the Ottoman Empire, typical war time casualties during World War I or that the Armenians were the ones who massacred the Turkish people.  

The United States government has also refused to refer the mass killings as genocide due to their geopolitical relationship with Turkey.

When running for president, then senator Barack Obama referred to the events as genocide and promised the Armenian population to publicly recognize the event as a genocide if elected president.

However, when awarded the presidency President Obama would never refer to the events as more than a tragic loss of lives or mass killings, in efforts to keep America’s relationship with Turkey in good standings.

The term genocide was created in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin as a way to describe the Holocaust committed by Germany during World War 2, seeing a need to describe this crime as it has happened times before including to the Armenians in 1915, yet both governments refuse to use that word when referring to the massacres.

The event also aims to stop genocides around the globe believing that since the first genocide of the twentieth century went unpunished, those who committed genocide in the future felt they could get away with it.

Their main example being Hitler who before invading Poland gave his soldiers the order to “kill mercilessly and without compassion men, women and children… (because) who after all today speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians.”

As of today 27 countries around the world have accepted, recognized and teach the events of 1915 as genocide but America and Turkey have yet to do so.

Even after 101 years the Armenian people have not stopped demanding justice and will continue to demand for another 101 years.

“There is no statute of limitation on genocide,” said Raffi Hamparian Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, a political organization that represents the collective Armenian American viewpoint on matters of public policy, as serves as a liaison voters and their representatives.  

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