LOS ANGELES–More than 1,500 community members–mostly youth–joined eight hunger striking Armenian Youth Federation members at the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles Friday to protest Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Waving colorful banners denouncing the Genocide and chanting "1915 Never Again," and "Turkey Out of Armenia," the demonstrators circled the front of the consulate building at 4801 Wilshire Blvd. at June Street.
The enthusiastic crowd gathered midway through the demonstration to hear California State Assemblyman Scott Wildman of the 43rd Assembly district who–earlier–had joined protesters in demanding Turkish recognition of the Genocide.
In his remarks Wildman praised the will of the Armenian people in continuing the struggle for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and announced that the California State Assembly passed a resolution marking April 24 a State Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
He then expressed his support for the Armenian Cause–stressing that Turkey’s acceptance of the Armenian Genocide was long overdue.
Wildman also touched on recent efforts by the Turkish government to fund academic Turkish studies chairs in various universities including UCLA and UC-Berkeley.
He urged the community to join together in fighting this new surge of academic revisionism–and–as in the case with UCLA–help defeat the proposed Turkish studies chair in Berkeley.
Wildman’stated that just as the heroic struggle waged by Armenia’s in Karabakh–the perseverance of the Armenian people will also bring about the realization of this cause–the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
AYF Central Executive chairperson Christopher Guldjian briefed the demonstrators about an impromptu meeting which took place between representatives of his organization and the Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles Hayri Hayret Yalav–during which the AYF representatives presented a protest letter addressed to Turkish President Suleyman Demirel.
Guldjian stated that the Consul General had refused to dispatch the letter to the Turkish president–and instead–had responded to the letter by–once again–denying the fact of genocide and continuing the Turkish line about causalities during World War I.
"We will come back next year–and every year–until the Turkish government recognizes the Armenian Genocide," said Guldjian.
Guldjian also commended the eight AYF members who had staged a three-day hunger strike at the Consulate.
Speaking in Armenian on behalf of the AYF–Melkon Melkonian stressed the importance of the demonstration and urged all protesters to come back until the just aspirations of the Armenian people are realized.
Before leaving–the enthusiastic crowd ended the protest by singing patriotic songs.