BY PAULETTE MARKARIAN
The year is 1915, your home and town has been terrorized and your neighbors and families either have been killed or forced to flee their own homes. One family in particular was completely wiped out. The only one who survived was a baby, who was saved by her aunt where she fled to a neighboring village in the country of Iran. That child was lucky enough to have survived and went on to become an intelligent and successful young woman. That woman, Anahid Georgian, was my great grandmother.
Family trees are interesting. We all are descendants of someone, but when it comes to war and destruction, family trees are cut short. In this case, my family tree would have stopped if my great grandmother had not survived, meaning my grandma, my dad and my sister and I would not exist right now.
It will be the 104th anniversary this April 24th since the Armenian Genocide where 1.5 million Armenians were massacred and left for dead and 104 years of denial. Some countries have recognized it, the most recent being France by declaring the day of April 24th “commemoration of the Armenian
The U.S. has recognized it in the past through Reagan’s administration where President Reagan stated, “Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it — and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples — the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.” Reagan was the first and only US president to refer to the mass killings as an actual genocide.
This year alone, here are some cases of hate crimes against Armenians. On Tuesday, January 29, two Armenian schools in Los Angeles were vandalized with Turkish flags being hung around the exterior of the school by a hooded man dressed in all black. Parents, students and staff were notified of the incident and LAPD is investigating the obvious hate crime.
To say this is a shock is an understatement, for years this atrocious time in history has been denied and for someone to hang the Turkish flag around Armenian schools and in a predominantly Armenian community, is immoral and disgusting. What was your motive? Personally, when I found out about this, I was shocked, confused, angry and felt very vulnerable. This was an apparent attack against my culture, the same people that have faced so much hardship throughout our races history. Ultimately, what is the message behind this motive?
“It is the equivalent of putting a Nazi swastika on the side of a Jewish school,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, whose district includes one of the schools. “This is a terrible affront. It is the equivalent of a positive statement about the Armenian genocide. Putting out Turkish flags is that kind of statement.”
What we need to understand here is, hate crimes are bigger than racism and bigger than discrimination, this is an obvious and intentional motive to hurt another race. Hitler himself infamously said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
“The reason hate crimes are so vile is that, for example, there are different motivations for crimes, a robbery can be [for] economic motivation, you wanna take someone else’s property and it hurts that person, but a hate crime has to hurt an entire community,” said Joel Seidemann, an assistant district attorney in Manhattan.
“So when there is an attack on a certain segment of a community, because of who they are, it’s particularly vile. As a motivation I think that is why most states elevate the level of a crime if the motive is a hate crime as it not only affects one person, but it affects the community at large…a hate crime terrorizes an entire community,” added Seidemann, whose family members survived the Holocaust.
Although the main aim of the Armenian Genocide was to wipe out the entire Armenian race, it failed. You can find Armenians all over the world who continue to grow and spread their seeds. No race should ever be decimated. We are all inhabitants of this earth.
I asked Diana S., an L.A. resident, what her thoughts were on this incident,
To be honest I wasn’t shocked at all because this isn’t the first time that the Turkish people are showing acts of hate toward Armenians. Besides the Turkish flags being hung all over the Armenian schools recently, a video was put up on Instagram by an Azeri Turk who was shown cleaning her dirty shoes with the Armenian flag then throwing it to the floor stepping on it, lighting it up on fire, and completely destroying it.”
Although most of the Armenian community has reported these posts and the Instagram page, Instagram has yet to take down her page.
At the yearly Armenian Genocide March in Los Angeles, California where thousands of people march about 6-7 miles every year to the Turkish Consulate, a crowd of people stood on the sidelines, wrapped in Turkish flags and threw water bottles and eggs at people who were participating in the March.
The list can go on and on from the incidents that have occurred over the course of a century. In the end, through all the hateful acts and denial, we are here in this world to honor, respect and ultimately educate those around the world. Those who have been kept in the dark over this and many other despicable acts of hate. We as Armenians, as human beings and all other races, are stronger and more confident than we have ever been. So your hate crimes might derail us for a minute, but will it affect us permanently? No, it won’t and never will.
Paulette Markarian, 22, was born and raised in Los Angeles. She is a Fashion Media major at LIM College in Manhattan, where she is also a photographer for the school’s magazine, “The Lexington Line.”