California Commemorates 90th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide

LOS ANGELES–"With all due respect to our presidents–past and present–there is a word for what you describe [as the events of 1915] and the word is genocide," US Congressman Adam Schiff told the crowd gathered at the athletic field of Glendale High school on April 24 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

The event was organized by the Armenian Genocide 90th Anniversary Commemorative Committee of California.

Elected officials joined Armenian religious leaders and representatives of various political organizations to honor the victims of the Genocide and demand proper recognition of the events. They included–among others: US Congressman Adam Schiff–California Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante–State Senators Jack Scott–Jackie Speier–Richard Alarcon–State Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer–State Assemblymembers Carol Liu–Cindy Montanez–Paul Koretz–Jerome Horton–Glendale Mayor Rafi Manoukian–Glendale City Council members Ara Najarian–Frank Quintero and Bob Yousefian–Rolling Hills Councilman Frank Zerunyan–California Supreme Court judge Zaven Sinanian–Burbank Board of Education member Paul Kerkorian–and Glendale Board of Education member Greg Krikorian.

Congressman Schiff–one of the keynote speakers–along with California State Senator Jackie Speier–explained that in commemorating the Armenian genocide–he–for a long time took to the house floor to read the names of individual victims of the genocide. "Sometimes talking too large a number is simply beyond the power of our comprehension–but talking about several people–hundred people–reading their names–letting my colleagues know these were real people–they were brothers and sisters–they were mothers–they were fathers–grandparents–aunts and uncles–teachers and scientists and scholars–musicians? so that we would all know the sound of suffering."

He expressed his happiness at the rebirth of a new Armenian nation. "In that nation of Armenia–we see how the Ottoman Turks have failed."

Speaking about the need to maintain US support for Armenia’strong in order to keep the country vibrant and growing–Congressman Schiff insisted that the success of the Armenian nation and its diaspora is the final proof of Ottoman Turkey’s failure.

Senator Jackie Speier began by proclaiming "never again," to describe the massacre of Armenia’s by Turk beginning in 1898. A third generation Armenian American–Senator Spier pointed to the 37,000 pages in the archives of the US government–recorded by diplomats–on the genocide of Armenia’s by the Ottoman Turks–and called on President Bush to properly characterize the Armenian genocide.

Sen. Speier’s resolution SJR 2–which marks April 24–2005 as California’s day of remembrance–unanimously passed the Senate floor last Thursday.

Other elected officials who addressed the gathering called on President Bush to properly characterize the first Genocide of the twentieth century in order to prevent future genocides. Many alluded to the event as one of the "darkest pages in history," and pledged their unwavering support to Armenian Americans in demanding the US and Turkey officially recognize the Armenian genocide.

In another victory last Thursday in Sacramento–the California State Assembly passed (70-0) SB 424–authored by Sen. Poochigian–that permanently designates the week of April 24 California’s week of remembrance of the Armenian genocide.

Other events marking the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide included the unprecedented March for Humanity that began on April 2 and ended at the State Capitol in Sacramento last Thursday to end a 19-day 215 mile journey that Began in Fresno and ended with over 500 members of the California Armenian American community–along with Senator Jackie Speier and State Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer–joining the marchers. The procession was met at the Capitol steps by legislators–including Sen. Poochigian.

On April 23–the yearly protest in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles once again gathered young and old alike to demand justice from Turkey–including reparations for their Genocide of Armenia’s at the turn of the 20th century.

That event was followed by a requiem service in Montebello–California at the site of the Genocide monument dedicated to all the victims of the Armenian genocide.

On April 24–System Of A Down held their annual benefit Souls concert–performing for their fans at the sold-out Gibson Amphitheatre.

As with last year’s Souls concert–the group fittingly ended the show with "P.L.U.C.K. (Politically Lying–Unholy–Cowardly Killers)," which includes the verse–"A whole race genocide/ Taken away all of our pride/ Revolution–the only solution/ We’ve taken all your sh–/ Now it’s time for restitution."

Proceeds from Sunday’s show benefited several organizations–including the ANCA–Amnesty International–Center for the Prevention of Genocide–and Axis of Justice.

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