Candlelight Vigil at Montebello Monument Marks Genocide

Some 700 Armenian men–women and children gathered at the Armenian Martyrs Monument in Montebello April 23–holding a candlelight vigil to remember survivors and victims of the April 24th Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Turkish Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923.

Organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation "Dro" Gomideh–the event was attended by several local groups including the Armenian Youth Federation "Vahan Cardashian" Chapter–the Board of Trustees of Holy Cross Cathedral and students from Mesrobian School.

Master of ceremonies Varoujan Baboumian took the podium first–saying the entire world witnessed the massacres of the Armenian people in 1915–but remained silent–allowing this century’s first mass extermination to go unpunished. Baboumian added that today–83 years later–the new generation of Armenia’s looks to the future with the hopes of breaking the silence–and righting wrongs.

Students from Mesrobian Armenian school performed for the audience under the leadership of Venera Sandaljian–followed by a poem recitation by longtime ARS member Anahid Adjounian.

As night fell–scouts from the Homenetmen Pasadena "Azadamard" Chapter arrived at the monument–candles in hand–and representatives from the ARS and Homenetmen’spoke.

Pauline Altounian represented the ARS "Nairi" Chapter–and said that again–the perpetrators of the genocide have gone unpunished–and that someday–Turkey would have to answer for its past crimes.

Manouk Zeitounian spoke on behalf of Homenetmen–saying the organization was devoted to educating youth on the events of the Genocide–and despite the change in times–has not wavered in its support of Armenian pursuits.

Holy Cross Cathedral Board of Trustees President Hovsep Gharibian spoke next–saying it was every Armenians duty to gather and remember the victims of the genocide–and said it was their memory that beckoned Armenia’s to come to the monument each year. Gharibian added that the suppression of Armenia’s’ rights continued today–and had to be stopped.

Garo Madenlian spoke on behalf of the ARF "Dro" Gomideh–saying it was the sacrifices of the martyrs of 1915 that had given Armenia’s what they had today–and that it was because of their efforts that such nationalism and patriotism existed within the nation and its people.

"In our area–we have this monument," Madenlian said. "More than 30 years ago–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation decided to erect this monument in the memory of the victims of the genocide–who gave their lives and their blood for what we have today–a new generation of youth more devoted than ever to Armenian issues and interests."

Madenlian went on to speak about the beginnings of the Armenian struggle in the 1970s–and also about the fate of the Kurds–who–along with the Armenia’s–were struggling at the hands of Turkey.

"Free and independent Armenia today must be governed fairly and openly–and must also enjoy a return to the specifications of the Treaty of Sevres in terms of land division," Madenlian said. "Our people must reunite in Armenia–and reparations must begin by the Turks for what they did so long ago–the act that has gone unpunished for so long."

A moving church ceremony followed–presided over by longtime respected clergyman Archbishop Smbat Lapajian–who compared the free and independent years following the 1915 Genocide to the resurrection of Christ–saying both were liberated following suffering.

Lapajian said many races and creeds have been lost over the years–but Armenia’s have withered on–thanks to the efforts of the ARF and other organizations who have made sure the flag of the ARF–and of Armenia–flies on.

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