As the century mark approaches for the Armenian Genocide, local students present music and dance to commemorate the occasion.
By Jason KUROSU
Nearly a century after the Ottoman government initiated events leading to the deaths of over 1.5 million Armenians, multiple generations of Armenian Americans gathered under one roof Tuesday night to remember the Armenian Genocide and the subsequent journey of the Armenian people out of darkness towards a thriving present.
The Glendale Unified School District hosted the 14th annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration at Glendale High School, an event that was arranged by the Armenian clubs from Clark Magnet, Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Hoover high schools.
Had the events beginning in 1915 gone differently, the Armenians who attended Tuesday’s event were representative of those who, over the last century, would have been lost. Students of all ages took part in the orchestration of the presentation, which was attended by, among others, Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan, Glendale City Councilmember-elect Vartan Gharpetian, Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian and Madeleine Silabian, a 100-year-old survivor of the Armenian Genocide, who was only 3 months old on April 24, 1915.
With the centennial approaching this Friday, the annual event took on added significance.
“We’re here to show that Turkey
“I Remember and Demand” was the title of the event, one that has become a worldwide slogan for commemorators of the Genocide.
“As every day goes by, we demand more,” said Krikorian. “Growing up in the United States, if some nation ever took the Statue of Liberty away, we would want it back. That’s why we don’t just want an apology. We want Mount Ararat back to our country where it rightfully [belongs].”
Turkey has yet to officially recognize the Genocide, often characterizing the events as part of a civil war in which atrocities were committed on both sides. This week, it was announced that President Obama would “urge a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts,” but without using the term “genocide” when he commemorates the centennial on Friday.
GUSD Superintendent Richard Sheehan expressed disappointment over the decision.
“Tonight is a very special evening for the Glendale Unified School District. Unfortunately, it would have been better had President Obama pushed for the recognition of the Genocide,” said Sheehan.
Sheehan did acknowledge Pope Francis’ referring to the events as “the first genocide of the 20th century” and thanked the Pope for “bringing it back to the forefront worldwide.”
Congressman Adam Schiff sent a video message which was screened for the audience, in which he expressed disappointment with the American government’s reluctance to formally recognize the Genocide.
“Our government must not continue to maintain a shameful silence about the killings,” said Schiff, who also sponsored the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution, which calls on the President to work towards establishing Armenian and Turkish relations, with Turkey’s full acknowledgment of the Genocide.
“We stand together because in the face of the continued denial of the historic facts of the Genocide by Turkey, we have a duty and obligation to speak the truth.”
In addition to a number of speakers, the event also featured performances from students, representing schools across the district. These student-run presentations included musical performances (both vocal and instrumental), dances, video, poetry and more. The students performed traditional Armenian songs and dances, while also touching upon the Genocide through video productions and live stage performances.
As a GUSD-led event, student participation in all facets was key, including speakers from the GUSD Armenian clubs who organized the event and GUSD student board member and Glendale High senior Mary Agajanian.
Agajanian spoke about the Armenian population’s “shared memory of huddling in a river, waiting for hostile troops to pass, that shared memory of fleeing to a foreign country, hoping for sanctuary because nothing remains of home but ashes and the ghosts of loved ones.”
However, Agajanian celebrated that recognition of the Genocide is steadily increasing on a global scale.
“We have been forced to stand on our own for far too long. For years, our best advocates have been those with the same -ian or -yan attached to their name. But now, every day, another country recognizes 1915 for what it was.”
ANCA-CV Holds Genocide Centennial Commemorative Event
The Armenian National Committee of America-Crescenta Valley Chapter hosted the Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemorative Event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on Sunday, April 12 at the Crescenta Valley High School auditorium. Elected officials, hundreds of community members and youth gathered to commemorate, raise and spread awareness of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in their quest for justice while demonstrating collective strength and spirit.
The event featured the viewing of a short documentary called “My Mother’s Voice,” followed by Dr. Kay Mouradian’s live commentary. The event also highlighted ANCA National board member Raffi Hamparian as the keynote speaker. From the foothills’ area, the Armenian Sisters’ Academy student choir, directed by Varduhi Baghdasaryan, and Chamlian Armenian School Choir, directed by Nora Bairamian, executed a powerful performance of traditional Armenian songs.
The ANCA-CV event was one of several local events commemorating the Armenian Genocide that will continue to take place in neighboring cities over the next several months. The 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is upon us and signifies a global demand for justice by Armenians worldwide.
“We have a date with destiny,” said Raffi Hamparian. “We must fight with our minds, with our hearts. Fight for justice, fight for our community, fight for that which makes us all stronger, fight to make us more united, and fight because it is the just and righteous thing to do.”
The centennial marks one of the 20th century’s greatest crimes against humanity. Acknowledging genocide and its devastations is a substantial step toward the prevention of future atrocities elsewhere in the world. Armenians have fought tirelessly seeking justice for these crimes.
“Ask any Armenian and they will tell you that he or she is a descendant of the Armenian Genocide,” said Armine Sherikian, ANCA-CV chairperson. “For the last 100 years, the message of the Armenian people has been the same: repatriation, justice and recognition.”