BY GAIANEH AVANESSIAN
On the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide the Armenian Youth Federation rallied the community in protest, demanding the United States and Turkish governments officially recognize the Genocide. Demonstrators were rallying for justice for the 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered at the hands of Ottoman Turks, in the form of reparations and official recognition owed to the Armenian people.
The demonstration attracted thousands of people; young and old, Armenian and non-Armenian to the Turkish Consulate on Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles. As the protest grew in size, the Los Angeles Police Department was forced to shut down parts of Wilshire blvd. to allow the mass of people to move into the street.
Current Glendale Unified School District Board Member and State Assembly candidate Greg Krikorian delivered a speech motivating the youth to continue the fight for Armenian Genocide justice, while AYF member Nora Injeyan passionately spoke about the universal impact of an unrecognized genocide in her keynote remarks.
A sentiment of betrayal and disappointment was felt by everyone in the crowd as on April 23rd, on the eve of the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, President Obama delivered remarks at the U.S. Holocaust museum highlighting the America’s commitment to the prevention of genocide without ever mentioning the Armenian Genocide. President Obama, don’t you know an unrecognized genocide negates any genocide prevention measures the White House takes? And so the cycle continues…
“Recognition is not just an Armenian issue. We do not demand recognition to affirm the truth, we demand recognition because in ignoring the lessons of the Armenian Genocide, the cycle only continued with the Holocaust, Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur,” said Injeyan. “It is the new generation, the educated youth, who will lead this struggle regardless of background or political affiliation, because when the Armenian people stand united, no amount of immoral lobbying or money thrown at the Turkish denial machine can stop us.”
AYF Chairperson David Arakelyan delivered his speech in Armenian, exclaiming that the rights of the Armenian people to their occupied homeland and proper recognition of the Genocide are not negotiable. “Our generation will be the generation that will expand Armenia’s borders by adding Javakhk and Nakhichevan, Kars and Van, Mush and Ardahan, Ani and Karin to the independent Artsakh. And our generation will be the generation that will create a free, independent, and united Armenia,” added Arakelyan.
Arakelyan also spoke directly to Armenian President Serge Sarkissian demanding he remove Armenia’s signature from the Protocols, showing the Armenian people are not willing to make any concessions regarding the recognition of the Genocide.
Twelve year old Sevana Manoukian had a message for the Turkish government. In her letter addressed directly to the Republic of Turkey she says, “You still have not said sorry for what you have done to the Armenian people. The only way Armenians and Turks can ever be friends is if the Turks say sorry for the Genocide and give us our lands back.”
After reading her letter out loud to the crowd, Manoukian attempted to hand deliver it to the consulate, only to be shut out.
“If the Turkish government truly has nothing to hide, why avoid a 12 year old girl and deny her entry?” said one demonstrator at the scene.
As the Turkish government continues attempting to erase a part of its history, the stain of denial is still visible. The cycle will continue until all genocides are recognized, proving once and for all that no regime will ever get away with such heinous crimes against humanity.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization in the United States, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.