Washington–DC–Armenian Americans from across the United States joined System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian and John Dolmayan Monday at a Washington–DC "Rally for Justice," urging the Turkish Government to end its worldwide campaign of Armenian genocide denial.
Organized by the Armenian National Committee of Greater Washington (ANC-GW) and the Armenian Youth Federation Washington Chapter (AYF-Washington)–the protest attracted over 1,000 activists to the Turkish Embassy–as Armenia’s around the world marked the 91st anniversary of this crime against humanity. Among the participants was DC United star player Alecko Eskandarian–who was MLS Cup Champion and MVP in 2004.
Tankian and Dolmayan are in Washington–DC as part of a three-day advocacy tour in support of Congressional recognition of the Armenian genocide. Following participation in the rally on Monday–the band members will be meeting with Members of Congress and the media to urge passage of legislation in the Senate and House that would recognize the Armenian genocide. The measures in both houses enjoy strong bipartisan support–but are being blocked from reaching a vote by the leadership–Speaker Hastert in the House and Majority Leader Frist in the Senate.
On Tuesday evening–Tankian and Dolmayan will host a screening of excerpts from "Screamers," a powerful film by Carla Garapedian about System Of A Down’s international anti-genocide advocacy efforts. On Wednesday evening–they will be honored for their vocal pursuit of justice for the Armenian genocide at the Annual Armenian Genocide Observance on Capitol Hill.
Having debuted two #1 Billboard albums in 2005 and having sold over 16 million records around the world–System Of A Down has a tremendous nationwide following and loyal fan base–who have heeded their call to action on social justice issues–including support of legislation recognizing the Armenian genocide. All band members lost family in the Armenian genocide committed by Turkey and are deeply committed to ensuring proper US recognition of this crime against humanity. The band’s efforts have gained national press attention in hundreds of articles appearing in the New York Times–Los Angeles Times–Washington Post–Chicago Tribune–Newsweek–MTV–BBC–VH1–ABC–FOX–WB–and Rolling Stone.
The inter-generational "Rally for Justice" brought together young and old in their call for the Turkish Government to end its campaign of Genocide denial. Activists were met by a smaller group of Turkish and Azeri counter-protesters–who were apparently organized by the Turkish Embassy staff and its paid lobbyists.
AYF-Washington chairman Serouj Aprahamian noted that Genocide recognition efforts are ongoing. "We will continue our efforts not just on April 24th but all year round. Through education–organization and activism we will move our cause forward and ensure justice for Armenia’s and all humanity," noted Aprahamian.
Following the demonstration–attendees walked to the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia for a short service and wreath-laying ceremony. Members of local Armenian organizations placed wreaths and flowers in front of the Khatchkar (cross-stones). The ceremony was led by Ambassador Tatoul Markarian and featured remarks by Mountainous Karabagh Republic’s representative Vardan Barseghyan–and the participation of the Washington Homenetmen Armenian Scouting troop. The program came to a close with a brief religious service led by Soorp Khatch Armenian Church Pastor–Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian–and Deacon Kalaydjian from St. Mary’s Armenian Church.