HOLLYWOOD–More than a thousand Armenian American’s and human rights activists gathered in Little Armenia Sunday afternoon for a peaceful rally calling on Congress to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res. 106).
Organized by the Armenian Youth Federation Western Region, "Rally 106: United Voices for the Armenian Genocide Resolution" was a nationwide rally held in conjunction with AYF chapters in Phoenix, Houston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Speaking at the rally were Reverand Vicken Vasilian of the Western Prelacy, AYF-WR Chairman Caspar Jivalagian, California Assemblymember Kevin DeLeon, ANC-WR Executive Director Antranig Kzirian, former ANCA Executive Director Seto Boyadjian and Glendale School board President Gerg Krikorian. The event was MCed by Berj Parseghian an AYF activist.
"Freedom of speech is what makes America shine as a beacon of freedom around the world, yet Turkey prosecutes its own citizens for speaking the truth and is now trying to silence Congress–the voice of the American people–through coercion and blackmail,” said Jivalagian, who gave the opening speech at the rally. “Turkey is trying to export their laws against freedom of speech to our country and we won’t stand for that.”
California State Assemblymember Kevin DeLeon, who represents the Little Armenia neighborhood of Hollywood also spoke at the rally and expressed his longstanding support of the just cause of the Armenian-American community.
"The message of the rally was simple," said Arek Santikian, an AYF activist. “Turkey is neither a reliable ally nor a democracy. They riot against us in Europe, burn our flags in their nation’s capital, blackmail our representatives into submission and threaten the security of our troops abroad.”
"It’s time we as Americans realize that the most reliable allies America has are its citizens," he added. "And as American citizens, we want our congress to take a firm stand against genocide and pass H.Res. 106."
"By holding this rally in support of the genocide resolution we are supporting human rights and justice, two fundamental American values," said Ishkhan Boghossian, the director of the Los Angeles area rally and an AYF activist. "We are going to stand firm against any attempt by a foreign government to hijack America’s record on the Armenian Genocide. Clearly, the Republic of Turkey is funneling millions to Washington, DC in a bid to strangle America’s commitment to human rights. That is immoral and we will be gathering to reject Turkey’s foreign interference," he added.
"It is important to note that the truth is a powerful thing," stated Kzirian. "We will continue to work diligently with Members of Congress to pass H. Res. 106," he added.
"Rally 106" comes at a time when the government of Turkey is increasing its efforts to prevent the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Turkey has hired public relations and lobbying firms such as the Livingston Group, Fleishman-Hilliard, and DLA Piper to lobby Members of Congress and persuade them to vote against the Armenian Genocide resolution. While 100,000 Turkish soldiers stand at the Iraqi border ready to recieve the go-ahead by Ankara to wage military opperations against the Kurds in Northern Iraq, the only stable region of Iraq.