LOS ANGELES–April 24 is marked by Armenia’s throughout the world as the start of a campaign of mass killings and deportations that wiped out the Armenian population of the former Ottoman Empire by 1917. Several Armenian communites throughout the United States–New York–Boston–Chicago–Washington–DC–Michigan–San Diego–San Francisco–Wisconsin–and others–held ceremonies on April 24 commemorating the event.
In Los Angeles–the Little Armenia’section of Hollywood was the ground for marches and commemorative ceremonies–including a united effort that featured several local and state officials–and US Congressman Adam Schiff–a staunch supporter of Armenian Genocide recognition efforts in US Congress.
In his address to the gathering of over 1,500–the congressman’said that the number–1.5 million is beyond comprehension–but that 1.5 million Armenia’s–mothers–fathers–children–grandparents–entire families were slaughtered at the hands of the Turks in 1915. The congressman–along with Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and California Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA)–recently initiated a letter to President Bush asking him to characterize the Armenian Genocide as a "genocide."
"We will work until the House–the Senate and the President call the Armenian Genocide for what it is–premeditated–calculated murder of the Armenian people for who they were. We will not give up–never marginalize and never forget," concluded Congressman Schiff.
Organized by the Armenian Youth Federation–a protest that attracted 4,000 mostly youth–took place in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles. The message that Armenia’s will never forget–and the fact that Armenian youth are not only politicized but also committed to the cause of genocide recognition were surely conveyed by the sheer number and passion of those present.
Wrapping up a "Week of Remembrance" sponsored by the city of Glendale–an evening program at the Glendale Civic Auditorium featured Governor Gray Davis of the Sate of California–who joined local and statewide elected officials–academicians–and community leaders to commemorate the 88th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
The Governor–who officially declared April 24th–2003 as the "State Day for Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide," stated–"We come together to remember their courage and to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that events like the Armenian Genocide never happen again." He continued–"And as we honor the past–we must continue to seek justice for its victims. . . In California–and across the globe–no one should be able to deny that it happened and everyone should play a part in ensuring that it never happens again. Armenia’s Remember 1915 Genocide."
Detailed reporting of events will be featured in the coming week.
YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–An incessant stream of people silently marched to Dzidzernagapert Hill in Yerevan throughout the day to lay flowers at the country’s main genocide memorial. Official remembrance ceremonies began in the morning–with President Robert Kocharian and the other Armenian leaders attending a prayer service held by Catholicos Garegin II–head of the Armenian Apostolic Church–by the memorial’s eternal flame. Foreign dignitaries also paid their respects.
"I know that this day is holy for Armenia’s. The events that happened 88 years ago remain in the memory not only Armenia’s but also all of civilized humanity. Such crimes are shocking and they must be prevented," said Ukraine’s ambassador to Armenia Vladimir Tyaglo.
The Russian ambassador to Armenia Anatoli Dryukov said: "On this day–those who evaluate peace and human life must recall events of the centuries–and resolutely do all possible to prevent such tragedies." He stressed that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is like a stream that sooner or later will force its way open.
In a written address to the nation–Kocharian stressed that his administration will continue to pursue international recognition of the first genocide of the 20th century.
"A clear and comprehensive international public position is not merely necessary in the sense of reinstituting historical justice; the efforts of Armenia in the international arena are conditioned by the sincere aspiration to have normal relations with all our neighbors." Kocharian said.
Last week–an Armenian presidential commission on human rights proposed amendmen’s to Armenian law that would make genocide denial a crime.
The idea is backed by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) who has for decades campaigned for international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. ARF Bureau representative Hrant Markarian–argued that several European countries have already enacted laws punishing those who deny the Jewish Holocaust.