LOS ANGELES—On Friday, March 28, hundreds of activists gathered in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles to protest Turkey’s role in recent attacks against civilians in Kessab, Syria. The protest was organized by the Armenian Youth Federation and the Kessab Educational Association.
Civilians in Kessab were forced to flee their homes following attacks by al-Qaeda-linked groups on March 21.Turkey reportedly allowed hundreds of radical foreign fighters to cross its border and attack the civilian population, which includes over 2,000 Christian Armenians whose ancestors survived the Armenian Genocide. Armenian homes and churches were systematically desecrated and looted by the invaders. Some reports stated that injured extremists were returning to Turkey for medical treatment.
Protesters urged President Obama to condemn Turkey’s actions and demand that Turkey stop aiding the invaders immediately. The protest was paired with a social media campaign to bring attention and awareness to the atrocities taking place in Kessab facilitated by the Turkish government.
Social media users addressed the Kessab crisis using the hashtag #SaveKessab. The campaign began at 12 p.m. on Friday and continued throughout the weekend. AYF regions across the world contributed via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The social media campaign found success on Facebook, as the hashtag continues to trend today. On Twitter, there are nearly 100,000 tweets containing the hashtag, with an estimated reach of about 40 million people. Some high-profile tweets by Kim and Khloe Kardashian, The Game, Travis Barker, and Chris Martin also helped bring light to the campaign.
Councilmen Paul Krekorian (Los Angeles) and Jack Hadjinian (Montebello) addressed the crowd at the protest and called for Turkey to stop helping the al-Qaeda-linked forces. Armenian Bar Association chairman Garo Ghazarian highlighted the crisis facing Kessab Armenians and urged the community to come together in support of the displaced.
Garo Ghazourian, Alique Cherchian and Alik Ourfalian delivered the AYF’s message.
The Armenian Youth Federation asks that all individuals posting about Kessab with #SaveKessab ensure that they use correct and factual information as to not discredit the campaign. Please make sure to conduct research on the photos, videos and statements being used to make sure that they are from the recent occurrences. Facts are what has made this campaign persevere. Let us educate ourselves in order to educate others.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.