AYF Ends Hunger Strike on Museum’s Promise

DIRECTOR OF MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE PROMISES TO INCLUDE PERMANENT ARMENIAN GENOCIDE EXHIBIT AT THE MUSEUM

AYF CRITICIZES ARMENIAN ASSEMBLY OF AMERICA FOR ISSUING STATEMENT PRAISING MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE ON THE SAME DAY THAT HUNGER STRIKERS REACH THEIR 122ND HOUR OF FASTING

CENTURY CITY–CA–The Central Executive of the Armenian Youth Federation announced the conclusion of a hunger strike in front of the Simon Weisenthal Museum of Tolerance by fourteen of its members. The hunger strike ended on its sixth day as a direct result of a personal statement by Museum Director Liebe Geft confirming that a permanent Armenian Genocide exhibit would be included at the Museum by the end of June 2003.

The AYF–nevertheless–pledged to continue efforts–full force–until a permanent exhibit on the Armenian Genocide is installed at the Museum.

Hunger strikers began their protest on Wednesday April 16 at 3 PM in front of the Museum of Tolerance on Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Six days later–on April 21st–two hunger strikers–an AYF Central Executive representative–and an ANCA-WR representative–held a meeting with Director Geft. During the two-hour meeting–Director Geft claimed that the Museum has always had–since its opening in 1993–a permanent exhibit on the Armenian Genocide.

"The false information provided by the Director is an insult to us," said Vicken Sosikian Central Executive representative. "The contradiction made between The Los Angeles Times article and today’s meeting was just shocking."

In a February 3–2003 article in the Los Angeles Times (Armenia’s Seek Place in Museum)–staff writer Christopher Reynolds reported that–"Museum Director Liebe Geft acknowledged that the Armenian genocide–once featured in an introductory film–has not been part of the museum’s permanent display or introductory film presentation for five years."

The AYF hunger strikers spent a total of over 122 hours hungry on the sidewalk in front of the Museum.

In a deeply disappointing development–AYF hunger strikers were given a statement by Director Geft–in which the Armenian Assembly of America praised the Museum for the "attention" it gives to the Armenian Genocide. The statement also highlights that the Armenian Assembly is "proud of its strong working relationship with the Museum of Tolerance."

"The members and supporters of the Armenian Assembly that live in the Los Angeles area should be embarrassed," commented Sosikian. "While our youth were starving themselves to bring attention to the Armenian Genocide and rallying hundreds of youths to our Cause–the Armenian Assembly is issuing a statement praising a Museum that has no exhibit on the Armenian Genocide," added Sosikian.

AYF-EASTERN REGION SEND SUPPORT

In a show of solidarity–the AYF Eastern Region forwarded a message that was read to fellow AYF members in their final hours of fasting.

We would like to extend our support for your courageous protest in front of the Museum of Tolerance. Your selfless acts are well recognized by your fellow Ungers in the Eastern Region–and we commend you for your brave devotion to the Armenian Cause.

It is with strength–courage and innovation that our mission will advance. You have displayed all of these qualities. Your hunger strike will undoubtedly play a key role in changing the Museum’s position on displaying a permanent exhibit on the Armenian Genocide.

Good luck with your goals and we fully stand behind you. We wish you success in your mission!

AYF-YOARF Eastern Region
Central Executive 2003

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