Armenian Youth Demonstrate Unprecendented Activism

Several events devoted to the 86th anniverasary of the Armenian Genocide were held throughout the Los Angeles area to raise awareness in the pursuit for recognition of the Genocide.

An AYF-organized youth rally was held on April 21–at Avedisian Hall in Encino–where hundreds partook in a program in memory of the victims of the Genocide.

On Sunday–April 22–the AYF Glendale "Roupen" Chapter organized a "March for Humanity." Over 500 participants marched from Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Hollywood to the Turkish Consulate–where a short candle-lighting vigil was held.

On Tuesday–April 24–a demonstration in Little Armenia took place–gathering over thousands of protesters young and old. The march was organized by the United Armenian Students (UAS)–with the participation of the AYF and other associations.

The Little Armenia protest was followed by another demonstration that afternoon–organized by the AYF–where thousands gathered in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles.

STUDENTS ORGANIZE GENOCIDE MARCH IN LITTLE ARMENIA

HOLLYWOOD–A march in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide took place Tuesday–April 24th at 11:00 a.m. in "Little Armenia" located at Sunset and Hobart. The march was an effort organized by the United Armenian Students (UAS) to promote public awareness of crimes against humanity and bring recognition to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Government.

UAS members include students from UCLA–USC–UC Irvine–UC Riverside–UC Santa Barbara–Loyola Marymount University–Pepperdine University–Woodbury University–Cal State LA–Cal State Northridge–Cal State Long Beach–Cal Poly Pomona–Glendale City College–Los Angeles City College–Los Angeles Valley College–Cleveland Chiropractic–UCLA School of Law–Loyola Law School and La Verne Law School.

In addition–a coalition of other groups participated–including the Armenian Church Youth Organization–Armenian Society of Los Angeles–Armenian Youth Federation–Gaidz Youth Organization–and Usanogh Periodical of Armenian Students.

Beginning at ten o’clock–the demonstrators began forming the "Great Wall of Armenia’s," a barrier that surrounded the 1.5 square miles of the march. The UAS meticulously crafted Armenian flags–to be held up by two students at each end–in order to create the symbolic wall around Little Armenia.

As the wall neared its completion–thousands of people flooded Little Armenia and gathered at the starting point of Sunset and Hobart. At approximately twelve o’clock–organizers rallied the demonstrators–and the march commenced with prayers led by Rev. Manoug Markarian–parish priest of St. John Armenian Church in Hollywood–and Rev. Vasken Atmajian–parish priest of St. Mary’s Armenian Church in Glendale. The spiritual leaders walked in front of the demonstrators throughout the entire length of the march–as Armenia’s of all ages demanded recognition for the Genocide.

The march culminated at Sunset and Hobart–where the organizers addressed the crowd. Following the prayers–Helen Mardirossian of the UAS–spoke to the demonstrators and explained to them the details surrounding the inception of the United Armenian Students and the goals that the organization had throughout the two months of planning. Armen Orujyan and Marat Manoukian of the UAS then spoke–and expressed their pride and elation at seeing such a tremendous show of support from the Armenian community.

Hampartsoom Chitjian and Sam Kadorian–survivors of the Turkish atrocities–recounted their experiences–moving many in the crowd to tears. Kadorian expressed his pride–describing the march as a symbolic metaphor for the Genocide. Eighty-six years ago–millions of Armenia’s were forced to march through the desert. On April 24–2001–thousands marched in the streets of Little Armenia in order to have the Genocide recognized.

The program culminated with the release of eighty-six white doves–symbolizing the years that the Genocide has been unrecognized–and how long the souls of 1.5 million Armenia’s have not rested in peace.

April 24th marked the UAS’ first public project in an array of future activities. UAS plans to promote its spirit of student participation and public awareness of cultural diversity–human rights and other important issues through information workshops–historical evaluation and community-enrichment projects.

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