GLENDALE—Elected officials, community members and leaders gathered in Glendale City Hall’s plaza on April 24 to mark the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, when 1.5 million Armenians perished at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government from 1915 to 1923. The event was organized by the Armenian Genocide Committee, which is an assembly of the largest religious, political, cultural, athletic, and professional organizations of the southern California Armenian community.
Master of Ceremonies for the solemn event was AGC Chairman Mehran Khatchadorian. He welcomed the large audience and thanked them for being present and raising their voices to demand justice for the unpunished atrocities. In his opening remarks, Khatchadorian expressed an ominous theme that was shared by many of the guest speakers at the event.
“Today our people confront a perilous situation as they did 108 years ago, as Azerbaijan and Turkey continue their policies of ethnic cleansing and annihilation of the indigenous Armenian population of the Armenian Highlands. It is imperative that today on April 24 that we not only remember our martyrs, but that in addition, we speak with one voice, loudly and clearly, alerting the world of the need to prevent genocide taking place again in Artsakh,” said Khatchadorian.
Among the distinguished list of keynote speakers were: Congressman Adam Schiff, California State School Superintendent for Instruction Tony Thurmond, California State Assembly member Chris Holden, Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, Los Angeles City Council President Paul Krekorian, Los Angeles City councilmember Nithya Raman, Glendale Mayor Dan Brotman, and Glendale City councilmembers Elen Astryan and Ardy Kassakhian.
Congressman Adam Schiff announced that he introduced an unprecedented bill in the U.S. Congress for the United States of America to recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh. He also called on the U.S. government to stop all aid to Azerbaijan, as he resoundingly asserted that “not one dime” should be provided to the authoritarian dictator regime in Baku. Schiff also raised concern that Azerbaijan appears to be preparing for war again and that if war should breakout, he is concerned that such hostilities have the potential to escalate and involve other regional powers.
In his remarks, Superintendent Thurmond explained how California schools are at the forefront of educating our youth about the Genocide, in particular the Armenian Genocide.
Prominent attorney and community activist, Milena Mailyan was the non-elected official keynote speaker. She spoke of the work that the Center for Truth and Justice, which she co-founded, has undertaken — recording over 400 testimonials and gathering evidence from survivors of the acts of aggression that Azerbaijan and regime have wrought against the Armenian population of Artsakh. As part of her address, she announced that an Armenian Legal Defense Fund is beeing established which will help fund the prosecution of claims against the perpetrators of the heinous crimes against humanity and provide for a means to defend Armenian rights in international forums.
On behalf of the Armenian Community AGC representative Antoin bezdjian delivered a speech in Armenian. AGC Armenian Youth representatives also took the podium and offered remarks. Participants later heard from Ani Ghazaryan (AYF) and Nanor Bedrossian (AGBU Youth).
The audience also heard a moving poetry recitation, presented by Ellen Vardanyan of Blair High School’s Armenian Studies Program in Pasadena, California, as well as a beautiful rendition by Maggie Margarita Khlghatyan.
The AGC also produced a two-hour April 24 Armenian Genocide Commemoration special program that was broadcasted on most local stations and all major Armenian television channels, and on AGC social media platforms. The special program featured interviews with scholars and political activists, and special message from Armenian religious leaders.
The highlight of the two-hour special program was a discussion with University of California, Armenian Promise Institute director and historian, Professor Taner Akcam. The two-hour special program was hosted by KTLA 5 News reporter Ellina Abovian, a journalist and news anchor Vruir Tadevosian, and Armenian TV & Radio Host Rafayel Mnatsakanyan. The program can also be viewed in its entirety on AGC’s Facebook page.
“I want to thank all AGC member organization and their representatives for working tirelessly to organize the Armenian Genocide commemoration and the special program. I am proud of the fact that we were able to raise awareness of the dire circumstances that the Armenian nation finds itself in once again. While we remember April 24 1915 and demand justice for our martyrs, we will be ever vigilant in bringing our community together to prevent the genocide that is looming against the Armenian nation and specially our compatriots in Artsakh,” said Khatchadorian.