"We need to use every ounce of pride we have in our ancestry–we need to recall the events of the Armenian genocide by saying–as one community–as one city–as one nation–and one human race–that we expect those who deny the Genocide to account for what happened to the Armenia’s," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Sunday to the crowd gathered at the Armenian Genocide Monument in Montebello’s Bicknell Park to commemorate the 91st anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
The event was organized by the Armenian Genocide 91st Anniversary Commemorative Committee of California.
Elected officials joined Armenian religious leaders and representatives of various political organizations to honor the victims of the Genocide and demand proper recognition of the events. They included–among others: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa–State Senator Jackie Speier–Congressmember Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)–Assemblymember Carol Liu–Member of the Board of Equalization Jack Chiang–Ambassador Gagik Giragossian–Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Archbishop Hovnan Derderian–Professor Peter Cowe–Narekatsi Professor of Armenian Studies at UCLA–and Turkish Publisher Ragip Zarakolu.
Mayor Villaraigosa went on to say–"We not only need to remember on this day–but we need to commit ourselves–everyone here–elected officials–religious leaders with us today–men and women–the grandparents–survivors–their children–Armenia’s and non Armenia’s alike–together. We need to harness the energy we have here–and use this energy to move this movement ahead and to ensure that our government does not allow this new injustice to occur."
California State Senator Jackie Speier–explaining that we have gathered not for apology but for justice–said "We must use our power–our passion–and our perseverance to stop the cycle of genocide forever." She continued to say that we demand "justice because we know that Armenia cannot be safe as long as Turkey remains unrepentant unapologetic perpetrator of genocide."
Speaking about the ongoing denial of the Genocide–Loretta Sanchez said–"Our leaders find themselves reluctant to call a thing by its true name. In the interest of diplomacy and cooperation and partnership–language is softened. Deeds are whitewashed–truths are forgotten–but we must not forget."
Several of the speakers mentioned US Ambassador John Evans–who is being recalled by the State Department for his use of the word genocide during a speech last year.
Officials who addressed the crowd also called on President Bush to properly characterize the first Genocide of the twentieth century in order to prevent future genocides. Many pledged their unwavering support to Armenian Americans in demanding the US and Turkey officially recognize the Armenian genocide.