More than 1,500 Protesters Urge Obama to Keep his Campaign Promise

Demonstrators at Sony Studios on Thursday

CULVER CITY, Calif.—With loud chants of “Obama, Keep Your Promise,” more than 1,500 community members gathered at the Sony Picture Studios Thursday afternoon for a demonstration urging the president, who is on a fundraising trip to Los Angeles, to keep his campaign promise and recognize the Armenian Genocide.

When addressing the crowd that gathered in front of the studio gates, System of A Down frontman and human rights activist Serj Tankian urged protesters to face the gate and by raising their right fist continuously repeat “As President, I will recognize the Genocide,” a familiar campaign promise made by then candidate Obama during the 2008 presidential race.

For more than 15 minutes, the excited crowd heeded Tankian’s call and then urged the president to honor his promises.

Serj Tankian being interviewed by the press

In his remarks, Tankian thanked the demonstrators and explained that the gathering was not just for the Obama Administration’s broken promise about the Genocide, but also to echo collective disappointment in all the campaign promises that the president has not kept.

Tankian highlighted that justice and human rights must prevail and urged the community to continue its activism and press ahead.

Community activist Hovan Tashdjian addressed the crowd in Armenian and reiterated the community’s disappointment in the failure for the Obama Administration to adhere to its promises, while pointing out that the Turkish government, which Obama seeks to appease, is still pursuing the very policies that led to the Genocide.

Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region Board chairman, Andrew Kzirian informed the protesters that his organization had sent a letter to Obama asking him to lay a wreath at the Montebello Armenian Martyrs’ Monument during his Los Angeles-area visit.

Kzirian explained that the ANCA-WR received a form letter back from the White House claiming a conflict in the president schedule.

“As President Obama embarks on his re-election campaign, the Armenian American community and anti-genocide activists of conscience are still waiting for him to demonstrate Presidential leadership to fulfill his 2008 promise by reaffirming the Armenian Genocide during his annual proclamation,” stated Kzirian.

“Coming to California, home to nearly a million descendants of the survivors of this Genocide, the president could have taken a strong step in that direction by visiting the Armenian Genocide Martyr’s Memorial in Montebello,” he added.

The brief program, which culminated in much louder chants from the protest, was kicked off by Asbarez English Editor, Ara Khachatourian, who in his remarks explained that he was part of the Armenians for Obama effort in 2008, adding that the president must face his voters and keep his campaign promise.

He added that Obama kicked off his re-election campaign by asking his supporters the simple question: “Are you in?”

“Well, Mr. President, we are not ‘in,’ unless you keep your promise and not let down the voters,” said Khachatourian.

The community-wide Armenian Genocide Task Force organized the protest, representing Armenian community organizations from throughout California.  Los Angeles Armenian Americans and anti-genocide activists went to the Sony Picture Studios in Culver on buses provided by the organizing community, filling up buses from Saint Mary’s Church in Glendale, the Ferrahian School in Encino, the  Rose & Alex Pilibos School in Hollywood, the Armenian Apostolic Church of North Hollywood and the Pasadena Armenian Center.

Almost all local channels were broadcasting live from the venue, and led their afternoon broadcasts with the news of the protest and interviewed organizers about the purpose of the protest.

In a series of letters and statements issued as Senator and candidate, President Obama pledged to clearly and unequivocally end U.S. complicity in Turkey’s genocide denial and properly recognize this crime against humanity.  In a January 18, 2008 statement, in the days leading up to the Super Tuesday Primary in California, he stated, “As President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

The complete set of Senator Obama’s statements on the Armenian Genocide are can be found here.

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  1. Masis said:

    From: Masis Babajanian []
    Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2011 2:55 AM
    To: Rutten, Timothy
    Subject: Thoughts on Genocide

    Dear Mr. Rutten:

    I read your well written article criticizing President Obama’s stance on the Armenian Genocide and commend you for your input and stance. As descendants of the Armenian Genocide, we are relieved and comforted when a non Armenian so aptly understands the situation and takes the morally just stance on the issue.

    We are even more frustrated with Obama than the past presidents. The previous presidents would not strongly pledge to recognize the genocide. They were wishy washy from the start. Either Obama’s initially stance was exceedingly idealistic or his intentions were to con the Armenian voters.

    In order to deal with Turkey, one needs to understand behavior in Mid Eastern cultures. There is a lot of posturing, a lot of flattery, a lot of broken promises, and a lot of threats that cannot be backed up. Given Turkey’s dependence on the rest of the world, its disappointment with the US recognizing the Armenian Genocide will not have major impact. The failure of the US government to understand the philosophies of Mid Eastern cultures and people is why we’ve had challenges in the Middle East in the past 50 years.

    Moreover, I never feel Turkey is an ally that can be trusted. Its population has a dominant far right, who would never let a Christian nation gain an upper hand when at odds with a Muslim nation. A great example is in Iraq, where Turkey supported us only marginally. At any time it is possible for Turkey to change course and go against the US in dealing against Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, etc.

    Finally, throughout history Armenia has geographically been the “Christian Front.” It is where Christianity has been defended against destruction. Some have referred to the Armenian Genocide as a “Christian Genocide.” We have never been the aggressor but merely resisted disappearance, conversion, and annihilation. However, when Christian US citizens, including Obama, go to church this coming Sunday to celebrate Easter, they ought to recognize that their faith and church has survived through the perseverance, sacrifice, and resilience of people such as the Armenians.

    Thanks again,

    Masis Babajanian, MD

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  3. Osik said:

    Unfortunately today S. Tankian disappointed me:-(((

    What he did during our demonstration today definitely was uncivilized and sheer abuse of the freedom of the speech.

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  5. teda said:

    While armenians all over the world are commemorating the victims of the armenian genocide, in Yerevan is going to be screened (23 april) a feature film about “Garapet’s son, who revolts against father’s attempts to save his roots, and his grandson, who fell in love with a Turkish girl.” It is the most outrageous topic to make a movie about : the love between an armenian and a turk. It seems like the love between a lamb and a wolf.

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  7. Arianne Buck said:

    In order to move forward in life and in the world, the Armenian genocide should be recognized!
    Certainly Mr Obama should understand that this is the right thing to do and the only thing to do.
    Even in politics a promise is a promise.
    Although “rather” late, this is THE moment for the Armenian people.
    Fairness is never too late!

  8. Berge Jololian said:

    Once again, year after year, the Armenian “National” Committee (ANC) misguides Armenians. They forget that the battle is not what Obama thinks or what words he utters. The messages (banners and posters) is:

    Genocide Acknowledgment with Accountability;
    Land, Reparation and Restitution;
    No restorative justice to Armenians, No energy pipelines to the West through Armenia;
    Erdogan: Eastern Anatolia is Western Armenia;
    Obama go to Deir-Zor;
    Genocidal Turkey occupies Western Armenia;
    Reparations and Restitution;
    Acknowledgment without Accountability is hollow and meaningless;
    Kars is Armenian
    Ani is Armenian
    Return Mount Ararat to Armenia

  9. Stephan said:

    Great job to all participants in the protest. Keep up the good job of reminding the elected politicians of their promises. Thank and reward only those who keep their promises and deliver.

  10. Edwin Nazarian said:

    Hm. KPCC (89.3, Los Angeles), took a break for local news during their All Thing Considered program at around 5:15 pm on 4/21 to report that “a couple of hundred protestors” (not over a thousand, not fifteen hundred) were protesting for the president to keep “WHAT THEY SAY is a campaign promise” [emphasis added] to recognize the Armenian Genocide. You all hear that? And did anyone hear a clarification or correction later on?

  11. Parsik said:

    1500 people out of two million , big deal, I have a good and freindly advice for you American-Armenians, you guys try to be better Ameriocans than better Armenians, that will prosper your improve your stance in the American social infrastructure and leave the Armenian affairs to the people who are suffering for being Armenian!

    I thank your efforts in advance and I don’t mean any offense to you good people, just stating the facts in the harsh world of reality.

    • Sergik said:

      Are you Armenian or non-Armenian? If you are Armenian then shame on you, if you are non-Armenian then mind you own F.. business.

      • Arto T. said:

        What he is saying is that Armenian-Americans are ineffectual. They have been played for suckers by every American administration for the last 50 years.

        You want power in the US—concentrate on being successful like the Jews. Otherwise please leave the work to the Armenians in Armenia and go back to your tavlu game.

    • Kirk said:

      I don’t get your point.
      You have to be,first,better Armenian in order to be a better American.That’s the message of this blessed country,which is built on immigrating peoples’ values.
      Second,every Armenian,throughout the history,has suffered for being Armenian.
      Usually,when we hear good and friendly advice,we understand that it comes from people who do not suffer for being Armenian.
      We better suffer for being Armenian until justice is done.

    • Hayk Nahapet said:

      Parsik du karas “xextves”, kam amenashat@ ghormesabzi kam chole kabab utes…
      Glxitset- xelkitset medz baneri mi xarnevi… anhajog ugeg unes u mtker…Huys el chka vor lavanas, ha hivand es… bjishki gna… en el shat shut…vijaket tsanera…
      “Boro Gosho” hayde…
      Long live Armenian nation, and it’s just struggle for justice …for human rights in the world, and the recognition of crime against humanity… Genocide…

    • Arman said:

      Try to apply your lessons in your family and don’t put your nose into others business. 1500 people in a working day and rush hours is enough people. The question is not the quantity but the act. We Armenians are thinking the same way bout Obama as these 1500 demonstrators. The voting time will come and you will see it.

    • manooshag said:

      parsick, A Turkish Genocide of the Christian Armenian peoples, of 100 years ago is memorialized from the 19th, 20th, and today continues into 2011, still abusive! When Armenians are successful and advanced, in ALL diasporas where our Survivors reached their safe havens. When, today, all our generations shall not have forgotten but still recall the horrrors of our over 1,500,000 (one and one half millions) of humans who were ‘eliminated” by Turk leaderships in order to own what was Armenian, all properties, all the wealths, all the culture of Armenians… all planned and executed by barbaric Turks who emanated from Asian mountains – seeking a nation to ‘steal’ – seeking a nation to ‘own’ as if theirs – and settling upon the Christian Armenians’ ancient/advanced culture as that which they chose – via Genocides!! Today,a Turkey is due and owing reparations (plus interest) to Armenia, thus are incapable of “recalling” what – historically -allf the world knows – Turkish Genocide of the Armenian peoples – who first adopted Christianity in 301AD (Rome in 307AD). Too, world history recognizes of Turkish leaders, who had need to slaughter, rape, kidnap, torture of humans -Turkish style. Inhumanity, vile, at its most base and evil – intended and executed.
      Since then lying/denying via education of their youth, too, leaderships lie to themselves when all the world is aware of how a Turkey gained lands – a Turkey for ONLY Turks – not by wars… by GENOCIDES.

  12. Z said:

    I say: time to get more power, political power, economical power, run for presidency yourselves! If an Irishman could do it, if a kenian could do it, an armenian could do it aswell! Go for the presidency, governorship and fix the G issue yourselves!

  13. Armen said:

    Osik, can you please tell those of us who didn’t attend the demonstration what Serj did? Thanks.

  14. jack said:

    over amillion armenians in california and only 1500 protesters what happened to the rest of the armenians?

    • Chris said:

      Oh golly, the liars are winning and the seekers of justice are losing. Today is just another sad, pathetic day for humanity. Then again, there’s been a lot of those in the last 2,000 years or so. It’s okay though, we have historians and good people on our side, whereas you have warmongering, blood-sucking politicians on yours.

    • ashot said:

      turkey is winning in the politics u try to step in our land again…u wont be killing innocent women n children this time it will be men with guns :) i will be one of them

  15. Arto T. said:

    1500 Armenians! What a joke. Typically Armenian. We talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. All BS no action. No wonder Obama doesn’t care and the Turks are laughing.

    Advertise free lahmajoun and you would get 100,000 people there.

  16. EAGLE said:


  17. Turan said:

    The Turkish demonstrators in Washington were more than armenians. Again, The Turks are winning, armenians are losing. By the way I will give you a phrase to scare you all! :-)

    Booo…Historical Commission….. LMAO..

  18. TurkishFriends said:

    To my Turkish friends Turan and Enver, did you read Friday’s edition of Zaman and a few other Turkish newspapers? I have news for you; For the second year in a row your compatriots commemorated the Armenian Genocide in Istanbul, Ankara, Bodrum and Diyarbakir, even your president declared that the tragedy that befell the Armeinan nation should never happen again. Don’t look at this as capitulation or losing the anti-Genocide battle on your part, but look at it as a victory against the futile denial and manipulation you have been subjected to by your politicians for almost a century. I applaud every Turkish citizen who wants to set history right and make amends, we can learn to live together as good neighbors, after all we go a long way in history.

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