GLENDALE—More than 400 community members joined a slew of dignitaries and the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat chapter in commemorating the Armenian Genocide during the Red Poppy Visual Interactive Forum on April 12 and 13 at the Ararat chapter headquarters.
Among the dignitaries attending the event were, Consul for Economic and Community Affairs for Armenia, Suren Vardanyants; Glendale City Mayor Zareh Sinanyan; Glendale City Clerk Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian; Armenian National Committee of America Glendale chapter Chairman Berdj Karapetian; Executive Director of ArmeniaFund, Sarkis Kotanjian; and Armenian National Committee of America Western Regional Board Member Steve Artinian.
Musicians played the duduk, while visitors milled around the large-scale installations intended to communicate the context and scale of the first genocide of the 20th century, the Armenian Genocide.
The installations included a 40-foot by 60-foot map of Western Armenia showing the Armenian villages that were decimated during the Genocide, as well as life-size photos of the ravages of the genocide, including a haunting photo of a Turkish soldier taunting starving Armenian children with a piece of bread.
Guests had an opportunity to walk on a platform filled with sand and rocks to experience the road traveled during the Armenian Genocide when 1.5 million Armenians were driven from their homes in Ottoman Turkey and forced on an exodus through the Der Zor desert.
After viewing the installations, guests took part in a panel discussion facilitated by forum host David George Gevorkyan. Panelists included: the lead United Nations prosecutor of the Rwandan Genocide, and current congressional candidate for the 33rd district, Barbara Mulvaney; Former California State Assembly member and current member of the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee, Anthony Portantino; Near Eastern scholar Dr. Garabet Moumdjian, Near Eastern Scholar and founder of ArmenianHighlands.com Gevork Nazaryan; and Syrian Armenian Relief Foundation founder, Zaven Khanjian.
At the conclusion of the panel, guests were surprised by a flash mob conducted by the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter Choir: children from ages six to ten spontaneously began to sing the Armenian National Anthem.
“The purpose of this event was not just to talk about the Armenian genocide in terms of facts, but to talk about the genocide in terms of the scale of the tragedy, and the context within which this genocide took place,” event creator and director Edik Balaian explained.
“The idea was to talk about uplifting the human spirit to go past our collective victimhood. We, as the descendants of the survivors of the genocide, owe it to those who perished not just in the Armenian Genocide, but in all crimes against humanity, to speak out against these atrocities and hold their perpetrators absolutely accountable,” stated Homenetmen Public Information Officer and Mistress of Ceremonies, Sona Krikorian.
Forum host David George Gevorkyan “The interactive forum established a new model for commemorating and recognizing the Armenian Genocide. It gave an opportunity for participants to be more involved and knowledgeable about the issue by providing new information and a fresh perspective to the facts.”