GLENDALE–The 82nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was commemorated Sunday during a program at Hoover High School attended by more than 1000 community members and organized by the Glendale "Aharonian," Burbank "Aghbalian" and Crescenta Valley "Zavarian" Armenian Revolutionary Federation gomidehs.
The evening’s keynote speaker was Edward Hovanessian–director of the Institute for Armenian Research in Munich–Germany. Also present at the gathering were newly sworn in mayor of Glendale Larry Zarian–ARF Executive Council of Armenia member Roland Sharoyan and Armenian academician Berdj Zeitountsian–as well as members of the ARF Central Committee Western US and representatives of sister and affiliate organizations.
For the first time representatives of the Armenian student population at Glendale Unified School District’s three high schools also addressed the gathering. Thus Evelyn Baghdassarian of Hoover High School–Rouzanna Kardillian of Glendale High School and Tamar Grigorian of Crescenta Valley High School each took turns expressing their views on the Genocide.
In his remarks Hovanessian emphasized the importance of moving toward the political solution for the Armenian Genocide issue and stressed several concerns and matters which–thus far–have remained unresolved in the pursuit of the Armenian Cause.
He outlined that in order to attain the desired resolution of the Genocide question we must identify the perpetrator and the crime–as well as from where and to whom deman’s for reparation and retribution must be made.
Hovanessian stated that the answer to all these issues could be found with a change in the current leadership of Armenia.
In discussing the genocide–Hovanessian stated that stages of mourning and "selling" the Genocide to non-Armenia’s had passed–with a certain degree of success which he attributed to the efforts of the ARF.
He stressed–however–that the Armenian people currently faced the third stage in the Genocide question–which was the political resolution of the conflict.
Hovanessian outlined that in identifying the perpetrator–the Armenian people have often blamed the entire Turkish race–which in reality the blame lay with the Young Turk leadership of the Ottoman Turkish Empire–as well as the current Turkish government for denying the crimes of its ancestors.
He pointed to recent documentation–stressing recent material published by Prof. Vahakn Dadrian–which point to German–Bulgarian and Austrian responsibility. Hovanessian stated that in discussing the issue–it would not behoove the Armenian people to extend the "criminal pool."
Hovanessian also discussed the creation of an international body to pursue the deman’s related to the Genocide–saying that since an Armenian Republic did not exist during the Genocide–thus Armenia cannot become the automatic inheritor of the Genocide issue.
In drawing a comparison with Israel and the Jewish Holocaust–Hovanessian stated that in pursuing recognition and reparations for the Holocaust the Israeli state–which has adopted a national ideology–does not intervene in that matter but wholeheartedly supports efforts by international Jewish bodies which pursue those issues.
He stressed that the present-day Armenian authorities had not adopted a national policy–thus the pursuit of the Genocide question was not a priority for the current regime–since it is more concerned with privatization–democratization (which is solely a propaganda tool) and other issues.
Hovanessian stated–however–that the creation of an international Armenian body to pursue the Genocide question was impossible at this juncture–given the fragmentation that existed in the Armenian reality–thus not allowing Armenia’s to make the transition into the political stage of the Genocide question.
He concluded his remarks by emphasizing the importance of politicization of the Armenian people–adding that "I hope that the current Armenian leadership will change and a regime will come to power with national ideals and a national agenda," with which the entire nation can devise a national policy.
The program began with a flag ceremony conducted by the Homenetmen Crescenta Valley "Shant" chapter–following the US and Armenian national anthems were performed by the Chamlian Armenian school choir under the direction of Nora Roumyan-Bairamian. The choir also performed two songs during the cultural portion of the program.
Master of Ceremonies–Ara Khachatourian–speaking on behalf of the three organizing ARF gomidehs–discussed the imperative of immediate action for the resolution of the Armenian Genocide. He stressed that too much time and effort had been placed on remembering and not forgetting–pointing out that remembrance alone did not suffice in the struggle for justice and the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Remarks by the Armenian Youth Federation were presented by Alex Sardar–who on behalf of the organization’s Glendale "Roupen," Burbank "Varak" and Crescenta Valley "Zartonk" chapters–discussed the AYF’s efforts in confronting Turkish revisionism and pointed to the organization’s decades’ long commitment to the Genocide question.
Sardar summed up his remarks by stressing that the Armenian youth would accept and bear the torch passed along by Genocide survivors.
Poetess Alice Kaplandjian recited a moving rendition of Daniel Varoujan’s "Charte" (the Massacre)–while Razmig Shahgeldian recited the "Requiem" by Vahagn Davtian accompanied by slides and music.
At the conclusion of the program–a group of 15 Genocide survivors were honored by members of the AYF and ARF Badanegan (junior organization) members who in a symbolic gesture of accepting the torch–were presented a tri-color Armenian flag by one of the survivors.