NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—On Thursday, Feb. 5, the Armenian Student Association (ASA) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) held a silent protest against Armenian Genocide denial, as part of an annual “Stain of Denial” event with other campuses’ ASAs.
Stain of Denial is a California-wide initiative started by the All-Armenian Student Association (All-ASA), meant to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide and its continued denial by the Republic of Turkey.
The silent demonstration included protestors with red tape placed over their mouths, with informational posters and flyers meant to educate the public about the genocide, its history and denial, and related crimes against humanity. The silence of the protestors symbolizes the reality of the Turkish government’s denial, and therefore its push for silencing the Armenian voice in its call for recognition.
At CSUN, the protest took place at Matador Walk, the walkway in front of Oviatt Library, one of the busiest paths on campus. CSUN has the largest Armenian student population at a university outside the Republic of Armenia at about 3800. Students gathered on the walkway in the morning, strategically placed themselves throughout the walkway, and proceeded to pass out flyers and hold posters for all students to see. Dozens of CSUN students approached the students to ask questions about the genocide, the Armenian race as a whole, and more.
Dikran Khodanian, a fourth-year undergraduate at CSUN and culture chair at the ASA, said: “One of the main purposes is awareness, during an unconventional time of the year. Each protester that is sitting with a poster and with tape on their mouth becomes a form of knowledge, enlightenment and education that each person walking through the walkway sees and will learn from.
“Walking through Matador Walk, many people became exposed to a race they had not heard of, and a cause they weren’t familiar with, that they stood in solidarity with and even joined throughout the four hours. Walking through this walkway, many people could not believe that this had happened in history, and that it is still an occurrence that is affecting all Armenians who are part of the Diaspora and who that took part in the protest. And sitting on this walkway, a movement is created as the Armenian youth across California come together for this day, simultaneously protesting for a cause that they feel so strongly for.”
The Stain of Denial protest took place simultaneously on other campuses as well, including the University of California campuses of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Riverside, California State, Long Beach, and others. At UCLA’s campus, about thirty protesters maintained a consistent presence on Bruin Walk, one of the main walkways of the campus. Mikael Matossian, a fourth-year undergraduate and president of the ASA at UCLA, was on one participant who helped organize a silent, campus-wide march with banners and posters meant to bring the issue to multiple parts of the school.
The All-ASA awareness effort also took place on social media, where the hashtag #StainofDenial was spread all over Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) helped to spread the word as well.