BY CATHERINE YESAYAN
What do you do when it’s pouring outside? The first Sunday of spring, March 25, was an unusual rainy day. Since I was not inspired to do anything I stayed home and watched TV.
Surfing channels to find something interesting, I came across a fundraising program on one of the Glendale local Armenian channels. It was a telethon organized by Unified Young Armenians (UYA) to raise money for a march in Hollywood commemorating the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
It was heartwarming to see a group of young Armenians putting together a successful telethon. I was drawn into the program. The next day I called their office to meet the group and learn more about their activities.
Aroutin Hartounian, the president of the group, was 14 when his family immigrated from Iran to the U.S. in 1999. Now at age 27, he is an aspiring and ambitious young man studying at Southwestern Law School. Hartounian said that the telethon brought $42,000 in pledges, which will cover a fraction of the expenses of organizing the walk. The rest of the funds was raised during a Christmas dinner-dance and other donations throughout the year.
United Young Armenian (UYA) was formed in 2000 with a vision to promote world peace and understanding and to seek justice for human rights. The UYA envisions a world free of genocides, with no inhuman treatment of man towards man.
The group organized its first walk on April 24, 2001, in Hollywood. The purpose of the walk, then and now, is to demonstrate and make the world hear the cruelty of the Ottoman Turks towards Armenians and to demand recognition and an overdue reparation for the Armenian Genocide. Since then every year thousands of people have come to participate in the walk.
The walk begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Hobart and Hollywood Boulevards. The route goes east on Hollywood Boulevard and then south on Normandie Avenue to Sunset Blvd. and then back to the starting intersection. The distance covers 1.5 miles, chosen as a symbolic figure for the annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks.
The UYA selected that particular route first because it falls in the heart of a neighborhood called Little Armenia, and second because it is close to major radio and TV stations.
Traffic will be closed along the route during the April 24 march. Prominent members of the community have been invited to participate and to speak at noon during the closing ceremony of the walk.
Free bus transportation departing at 8 a.m. will be provided from 11 different locations as follows:
St Mary’s Armenian Church – Glendale
Anush Banquet Hall – Colorado/Glendale
Anush Banquet Hall – Glenoaks/Glendale
Maple Park – Glendale
Whole Foods Market – Glendale
St. Gevork Church – Kenneth/Glendale
Western Diocese of the Armenian Church – Burbank
Arbat Golden Palace – Burbank
Shirak Deli – La Crescenta
Blackjack Market – North Hollywood
St. Gregory Church – Pasadena
The UYA will also organize an Armenian Genocide Candlelight Vigil and musical performance on Monday, April 23, at 7 p.m. The event will be held at the northwest corner of Verdugo and Mountain streets, across from Glendale College (this is a large parking lot just south of the Glendale Civic Auditorium).
* * * * *
Another youth group, one with deep roots and a long tradition in the Armenian community, is the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), which was founded under the auspices of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in 1933 in Boston, Massachusetts.
For the last three decades, AYF has organized an annual April 24th protest in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles. The demonstration will be held on Tuesday April 24, from 4 to 6 p.m.at 6300 Wilshire Blvd, LA. The organization is providing free buses, departing at 2 p.m. from the following locations:
Pasadena Armenian Center
St. Mary’s Church – Glendale
Orange County Armenian Center
Pilibos Armenian School – Hollywood.
Besides the protest in front of the Turkish consulate, AYF has organized other commemorative events to mark the 97th anniversary of the Genocide.
The Glendale “Roupen” Chapter, in the evening of Sunday April 15 hosted a rally “One Voice, One Cause,” at St. Mary’s church in Glendale signifying the rebirth of the Armenian nation. The few hundred crowd enjoyed food and music played by the Element Band, the Palm of Granite and others.
A Vigil will be organized by Burbank “Varak” Chapter and the ANC of Burbank on Tuesday April 24. A Proclamation from City Council will be read at 6 p.m. and the actual vigil will start at 7 p.m..
On Sunday, April 29, a bike ride will be organized by the Valley’s “Sardarabad” Chapter. The event is called “Cycle Against Denial”
It is so gratifying to see our youth devoting their talents and time to advance the Armenian cause. Kudos to our youth for providing all these commemorative events.
Catherine Yesayan is a contributor to Asbarez. You may reach her at [email protected] or read her stories on her blog