BY AREN DORIAN KURKJIAN
LOS ANGELES—With the centennial of the Armenian Genocide approaching, the entire Armenian nation is doing their part to bring attention to the cause. At Rose and Alex Pilibos, students of the Hye Tahd classroom penned letters of demands to deliver to the Turkish Consulate. These letters outlined the concerns of the Armenian community in Los Angeles, and urged the government of Turkey to take action and come to terms with their genocidal past.
On Monday, April 13, an assembly of nine high school juniors and seniors delivered these letters to the Turkish Consulate. Upon our arrival at 6300 Wilshire Blvd, about a few seconds after entering the building, we were greeted by security. A middle age man, who claimed he “owned the building,” halted the group’s entrance to the upper levels. My classmates and I never actually made it to have a meeting with the Consul General, or even quickly drop off the letters we spent time composing. Instead we were greeted with hostility, intolerance, and anger. Building security repeatedly tried to show dominance over us, and rudely answered any questions we respectfully posed. He hammered into us that “nothing Armenian is allowed in the building.” He was given orders that no Armenian letters, no Armenian protestors, no Armenian students, nothing Armenian should be allowed inside the entire building. When one of the students pointed out how discriminatory his statements were, and as our teacher began to record his speech, he altered his approach and said he meant, “no one is allowed without a scheduled meeting.” As the discussion went on, the security guard’s arguments became flawed, and as the students continued to point those gaps out, his speech became more vitriolic, more insensitive, and more threatening. He told the students that their protests are useless, and the only thing that happens on April 24th is the inconveniencing of the tenants of the building; that their work is almost useless. He tried convincing us that we are wasting our time because the Consul General’s only job is to grant passports and that she does not represent the government of Turkey in Los Angeles, her actual job as a diplomat. When students pointed out these callously incorrect statements, he threatened the students by saying that there are “10 armed guards upstairs to prevent entry.” He continued by trying to guilt the students about protesting on April 24th, by stating the entire building has to take off work on that day “just so you can scream and shout about something that happened 100 years ago.”
The Turkish government fears the truth, the Turkish government fears opposition, and most of all they fear nine Rose and Alex Pilibos high school students. The letters were not delivered; our trip however was not a waste. It is proof of the fear and cowardice of the Turkish government, of the prejudice of Turkey’s pawns in America, and of the power of the youth to anger their government.