Demonstrators Remind Obama of Broken Promises to Recognize Genocide

img_8386-mediumBEVERLY HILLS, CA–On April 24, 2009, millions of Armenians had their hearts broken by a leader who they believed represented change and hope.

President Barak Obama disappointed his Armenian American supporters by neglecting to keep his campaign promise to honor and recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915 as a true genocide. Instead, he washed his hands of the situation by pushing the responsibility to the Turkish and Armenian government and shamelessly skirting away from an issue that truly holds in its core all of morality. While the disappointment was sever, the perseverance and determination of the Armenian American people did not deter.

On Wednesday May 27, hundreds gathered around the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California to remind the President of his broken promise as he hosted a Democratic Party fundraiser. Joining them were hundreds of other activists demonstrating for gay rights and an end to the war in Iraq and torture.

Organized by the Armenian Youth Federation and the “Shant” Student Association, the demonstration sought to urge Obama to honor his campaign promises to an Armenian American Community disappointed with at the President’s failure to properly characterize the Genocide.

“We are gathered here to remind the President of his campaign promise to properly and justly recognize the Armenian genocide,” said Arek Santikian, a spokesperson for the AYF.“We heard about his visit to Los Angeles about three days ago and mobilized as many people as we could even though it was short notice and a difficult time of the day.”

As the Armenian Americans gathered and chanted “94 years no more tears” and “Obama, keep your promise,” their loomed a genuine sadness amongst all of them who had firmly believed this year—and this president—would have seen an end to the Turkish gag-rule on America’s position on this fundamental human rights issue.

This dissatisfaction, however, has not taken away from the hope and faith instilled within the hearts and minds of every Armenian-American—a feeling so deep rooted that expecting anything other than absolute fortitude and resilience would go against all that they stand for.

“We know he is hearing our voices and will eventually do the right thing,” Santikian said.

And President Obama did hear the voices. In a speech given that same day at the Democratic fundraiser, he said to his audience that one of the protestors said, “Obama, keep your promise”, to which he responded, “I thought that’s fair. I don’t know which promise he was talking about.”

If Obama genuinely wants to listen to the people and live up to the example he himself set, then we should hold him accountable for not following through on his word. With a comment such as that, it is up to every single Armenian American to make sure the President knows exactly who was chanting “Obama, keep your promise!” and why.

For Meher Aboolian, a young demonstrator who made the drive from Glendale to West Los Angeles, this issue is a fight for truth. “I want to see the end of denial within the country of which I am a citizen,” he said.

Interestingly, Armenian-American’s were not the only ones demonstrating against Obama’s failure to keep his promieses. Susan Adelman, a mother protesting for the anti-war organization Code Pink, said that there “is an encompassing lack of major promises not being kept. Whether we’re here to protest against war or the recognition of a genocide, we stand here as reminders of what we believed in when he was campaigning and how closely to our hearts we held these issues.”

Another demonstrator, Marcy Winograd also supported the Armenian-American community’s concerns regarding the denial of the Genocide. Winograd plans on running against South Bay Congresswoman Jane Harman in the June 2010 election. Harman is an infamous Genocide denier who, after signing on as a cosponsor to the Genocide Resolution in 2007, lobbied her colleagues to pull their support from the legislation.

Speaking to Asbarez, Winograd expressed sincere concern and dedication to the cause for Genocide Recognition. When asked how she felt about President Obama’s failure to recognize the crime, she said, “I believe that the lack of recognition is a sign of making invisible your citizens and as a public official who is responsible for the people, it shows a sign of irresponsibility.”

While the anti war protesters held up their signs and gathered to call for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Armenians, as they always have in the past, brought voices, spirit and valiancy to the collage of activists demonstrating across from the President.

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7 Comments

  1. Hye4Life said:

    Good job! We need to keep the pressure for the entire year and not wait till April 2010. I am glad our youth is actively involved, however there is plenty of improvement to be done to include all the voices and increase the numbers.

  2. ARLETTE SHOHMELIAN said:

    I guess we have to put more pressure on the president, he must honor his promise. I am impressed with the Armenian American youth, keep the fire going. We are close.

  3. Diana said:

    If I had known, I would have gone too. How do you find out about these protests? Its important that as many people as possible show up for these protests.

  4. gosdanian said:

    the sooner the armenian americans separate themselves from Obama and his agenda, the better it will be for our future.

  5. JOHN KEUSEYAN, LT. COL USAF (RET.) said:

    Apparently President Obama has broken many promises; because he does not know what promise the demonstrators are talking about. Lets keep the presure on until we bring honesty and integrity to Wahsington D.C. Lets keep reminding them that they represent the people of this country and not foreign governments. Unless they adhere to peoples’ wishes, we will remember it come election time.

  6. Pingback: Demonstrators Remind Obama of Broken Promises to Recognize Genocide : Armenian Youth Federation Western Region

  7. Elyse Rukkila said:

    Obama, Biden, and Clinton also broke all their promises to the Greek community. I suggest both communities,  who have been brethren for so long and suffered so much at the hands of the Ottomans, join forces in reminding our leaders of their promises!

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