The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Shant Student Association in partnership with the ANC- Professional Network organized the "Rally Against Denial" on April 23–focusing on the youth–students and professionals of the community; over 1,500 people gathered for the event.
The theme was activism through knowledge and awareness of Armenian Genocide issues and Turkey’s denial of history.
"Armenia’simply cannot be safe with an unrepentant perpetrator of genocide on its borders," said keynote speaker Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America
"When we fight against Turkey’s denial–we’re actually fighting for the security of Armenia," revealed Hamparian. "If Turkey seeks as it says it does–to join the European family–to be accepted in the community of nations–it must come into terms with Cyprus–the Kurds–the role the military plays in dominating the civilian government and recognizing the Armenian genocide."
Hamparian’s emphatic message–"What we’re fighting for is not an apology; what we’re fighting for is justice–and on that topic we are dead serious," was embraced the crowd.
ARF Central Committee member Hovan Tashjian addressed participants–directing his words to the youth. "The commitment of the Armenian government in recent years to embrace the issue of the Armenian Cause as a part of its foreign policy is extremely encouraging. Hence–the statemen’s made by the President of Armenia from the podium of the United Nations promoting the issue of Armenian Genocide recognition–reaffirm our just cause at an international level," Tashjian said.
"If yesterday the heroes of Lisbon compelled the international community to speak about the Armenian Cause–today our cause is discussed by the president of Armenia at a government level–as a result of the diligent work of the ANC–and our dedicated brave youth who organize hunger strikes. It is perhaps convenient to jail Hampig Sassounian or a political leader like Mourad Topalian–but our committed youth come to continue the struggle with new a spirit and methodology. How can you not respect those youth who advocate the Armenian Cause in Washington and Sacramento–New York and Los Angeles–who educate political circles about the unpunished genocide of the Armenian people. How can you not respect a youth who is willing to starve himself in front of a museum?" Tashjian asked.
United States Congressman Brad Sherman a long time friend of the Armenian Community addressing the crowd–said: "Why has our country failed to recognize the truth; we should not–for geopolitical convenience–assume that Turkey will somehow be a better ally if we fail to recognize history," Sherman’said. "The greatest accomplishment–the greatest beneficiary of a Turkish recognition of the Genocide would be Turkey," Sherman explained.
Reaffirming his dedication to the Armenian Community and to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide–the Congressman’said–"I look forward to working with you this year and next year when we recognize the first Genocide of the twentieth century and hopefully we do so in a world that puts truth before geopolitical connivance."
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Greg Keosian was also present and passed on his message to the participants. "You–the second and third generation of Armenian survivors have the burden–the obligation–and duty to take the next step in this–our 88 year journey. You must not be dissuaded; you must embrace the challenge. There will be many obstacles thrown in your path. However these are not the obstacles your forefathers faced" Keossian said. "My generation your generation the generation–the spirits of your grandparents will not rest until the deman’s are met. It is now your turn–your duty–and your obligation to take the final step and end once and for all this journey that began in 1915? be active; be aware and be involved in our deman’s for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide–for reparations to the Armenian people–and the return of our ancestral homeland will be received; be patient–but be firm," Keossian explained.
Representing ARF Shant Student Association Christopher Guldjian–addressed fellow youth–stating: "There are those out there who doubt the Armenian Youth; there are those out there who don’t think we are worthy of attention; we reaffirm our dedication; we demand attention as we did at the hunger strike–and succeed–and will do so tomorrow at the Turkish consulate. . . we pledge to you our promise to work hard for the cause."
The highlight of the evening came when the AYF hunger strikers were called to the stage. The moment was surely unique. "We assure that our efforts will not end until we see the installation of the Armenian Genocide exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance. I’m proud of our members who had the courage to use their bodies as tools in the fight for recognition; I’m certain that the same members–and more–will accept future challenges with even more courage and bravery. I assure you that the AYF will continue its efforts and remain on the front lines of the Armenian Cause," affirmed hunger striker Shant Baboujian.
Also present at the event were Levon Baronian from CSUN ASA–Haig Hovsepian from UCLA AGSA–Shant Minassian from USC AGSA. ANC-PN member Pattyl Aposhian–served as the master of ceremonies. ARF Bureau member Dr. Vicken Hovsepian was also present at the gathering.
Armenian singers Nersig Ispirian–Hovig Kirkorian–and Razmig Masourian added to the spirit of the rally with patriotic songs. The audience also viewed several videos and presentations prepared by the youth.
The rally emphasized that the struggle for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the ultimate goal of a free–independent–and united Armenia must continue. The message: the Armenian public cannot and will not rest until justice is served.