A Time for Remembrance and to Honor – Armenian Genocide Remembrance Week

At the 2023 Armenian Genocide Remembrance event held at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, slides were projected of the people who survived and those who perished during the 1915 Genocide.
File photo



Armenian Genocide Remembrance Week will be commemorated in Glendale beginning April 20. This year’s theme, “1.5 Million+,” pays tribute to the enduring strength of survivors while honoring the memory of the countless victims of the 1915 Genocide.

“The theme this year incorporates both the memory of the lives lost in the 1915 Genocide as well as [acknowledging] the current blockade and unprovoked attacks from Azerbaijan,” said City of Glendale Mayor Elen Asatryan, who helped organize this year’s events. “We can no longer just commemorate the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 without speaking to the current genocide that’s taking place and the displacement of Armenians [as] their ancestral lands are blocked off,” she said.

Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian said though President Biden very recently recognized the 1915 Genocide, the overall silence of the world on the current conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is a reason to educate the non-Armenian community about the Genocide and the current atrocities.

“It’s a reminder that we’re not that far removed from our past even though it was over 100 years ago. Nor are we safe from it occurring again. So those are issues that I think are prevalent in the minds of a lot of Armenians,” Kassakhian said. “And I think that perhaps this is a good time for a lot of non-Armenians who are unaware of what happened in Artsakh to be reminded ­[though] there is a war happening in Ukraine with civilian populations under threat of murder and and war crimes; there is the war and the attacks on Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces along with the Oct. 7 attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas; but in-between all of these events, and actually predating [these events], was what happened in Armenia, in Artsakh.”

In addition, a lack of accountability by the perpetrators of genocide in Armenia perpetuates trauma for many Armenians in the diaspora, said Kassakhian.

“I think there’s also an attempt by many Armenians – not an attempt but a sense – that because the genocide … issue was never resolved in terms of the perpetrators making amends, apologizing … that the prospect of another genocide always looms over the Armenian people,” he said.

“Genocide is not just something that happened then – or happens over there.

It is happening now in many places around the world, including of course in Artsakh.

And it can even happen here if we don’t educate ourselves, stay vigilant and call it out

when we see it,” wrote Councilmember Dan Brotman in a statement to the CV Weekly. Brotman also participated in organizing the commemoration events.

Mayor Asatryan said the next step toward a solution would be for President Biden to call out Azerbaijan and invoke Section 907. According to GAO, Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act of 1992 generally prohibits assistance, other than specified support for nonproliferation and disarmament, to the government of Azerbaijan.

In 2023, the City of Glendale created the Glendale Aid to Artsakh Initiative to send aid to those impacted by the blockade of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. In 2024, Asatryan proclaimed April 2024 Armenian Armenian Genocide Commemoration and Armenian Heritage Month.

“The City of Glendale is using these events to amplify the collective stories of atrocities that have taken place against Armenian people. We pay tribute and respect to our ancestors and celebrate cultural contributions of Armenian people and Armenian Americans who have helped create the fabric that we have in our city today,” Asatryan said. “My greatest hope for this year is that we will see many Armenians, but also the larger community, present at these events to learn to educate themselves.”

Events throughout the City will begin April 20 starting with a reception for a new exhibition at the ReflectSpace Gallery at Glendale Central Library, Before and After: Reflections on the Armenian Genocide. The exhibit examines the connections passed down through blood, migration and history; from genocide to diaspora to belonging. At 11 a.m. on April 20, Astrid Kamalyan, author of the children’s book Bábo, will have a book signing and discussion on Artsakh Avenue.

A commemorative ceremony at the Alex Theater will take place on April 21 and will feature firsthand accounts of the persistent challenges and displacement confronting Armenians as produced by Nairi Bandari that includes footage from Zartonk Media that will showcase traditional performances by the Character Dance Group and the Haikian Chamber Choir.

The entire proclamation by Mayor Elen Asatryan:

Proclamation Designating April 2024 as Armenian Genocide Commemoration and Armenian Heritage Month

Whereas, Armenians have inhabited the Armenian Highland for over four millennia and have developed a unique, rich civilization in the region with a long and continuous history, including the establishment of many kingdoms in their indigenous land; and

Whereas, Ottoman Turkish political leaders, succeeded by the leaders of the Young Turk genocidal government, promoted a pan-Turkic agenda to unite the Turkic populations of the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire by annihilating the non-Turkic Armenian, Greek and Assyrian minorities in the region, a campaign which continues to this day; and

Whereas, the Armenian people were victims of a series of massacres at the hands of both Ottoman Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan, namely the Hamidian Massacres between 1894 and 1896 and the Adana Massacre of 1909 by Ottoman Turkey and the massacres in Shushi, Baku, Ghaibalishen, Jamilli, Karkijahan, and Pahlul between 1918 and 1920 by the Republic of Azerbaijan; and

Whereas, the Armenian people were victims of a systematic and premeditated genocide in their ancestral homeland, which began on April 24, 1915, at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government from 1915-1919, and which continued at the hands of the Kemalist government of the Republic of Turkey from 1920-1923, whereby more than 1.5 million Armenian men, women, children and elderly were slaughtered or marched to their deaths in an effort to annihilate the Armenian Nation, while thousands of surviving Armenians were forcibly converted and Islamized, and hundreds of thousands more were subjected to ethnic cleansing during the period of the modern Republic of Turkey from 1924-1937; and

Whereas, during the same time period, the Ottoman Turkish authorities massacred over one million Greeks, Assyrians, and other Christian minorities as part of the premeditated attempt at the complete eradication and genocide of these indigenous communities; and

Whereas, these international crimes against humanity resulted in the permanent removal of all traces of the Armenians and other targeted peoples from their ancestral historic homelands, implementing a strategy of deliberate and ongoing erasure and enriching the perpetrators with the lands and confiscation of other property of the victims, including usurpation of several thousand churches; and

Whereas, in response to the Genocide and at the behest of President Woodrow Wilson and the U.S. State Department, the Near East Relief organization–as the first Congressionally-sanctioned American philanthropic effort created to rescue the Armenian genocide survivors–was founded and provided unprecedented relief, delivering more than $117 million in humanitarian assistance between 1915 and 1930, and saving approximately one million refugees, including 132,000 orphans of the genocide; and

Whereas, in 1923, Soviet leader Josef Stalin, utilizing a strategy to divide-and-conquer ethnic minorities in the former Russian Empire, proclaimed the ancient Armenian region of Artsakh, populated almost entirely by ethnic Armenians, as the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic; and

Whereas, in 1924, Stalin, in furtherance of the same strategy, created an Azerbaijani exclave on the ancient Armenian land of Nakhichevan, which was subsequently ethnically cleansed of all Armenians and rendered devoid of Armenian cultural presence with the deliberate destruction of Armenian heritage sites, antiquities, and artifacts; and

Whereas, prior to the implementation of the Holocaust, in order to garner support from his followers, Adolf Hitler asked “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”; and

Whereas, the Republic of Turkey continues its genocidal policy by showing no remorse for the crime and engages in the final stage of genocide by denying the veracity of the crimes perpetrated against the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian nations, while continuing a deliberate project of cultural erasure; and

Whereas, Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, having proclaimed its independence by a democratic referendum of the People before the fall of the Soviet Union and well-before Azerbaijan declared independence, has never been a part of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan; and

Whereas, the Armenian Genocide has been officially recognized by the U.S. Congress in 2019 and U.S. President Joseph R. Biden officially recognized the Armenian Genocide in a statement made on April 24, 2021, which solidified full, unequivocal and indisputable recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the legislative and executive branches of the US government; and

Whereas, from 1988 to 1990, the Armenian population in Soviet Azerbaijan was the target of racially-motivated massacres and mass deportations in the cities of Sumgait (February 27-29, 1988), Kirovabad (November 21-27, 1988), and Baku (January 13-19, 1990); and

Whereas, in a further deliberate act of cultural genocide, 89 churches, 5,840 ornate cross-stones (khachkars) and 22,000 tombstones, constituting more than 98% of tangible Armenian cultural history in the formerly Armenian region of Nakhichevan, were systematically and covertly eradicated by the Azerbaijani government from 1997 to 2006 in order to erase the region’s indigenous Armenian past; and

Whereas, having suffered massacres, racial and economic discrimination under the Soviet Azerbaijani occupation, the citizens of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region declared their independence from the USSR in 1991 and established the free, independent, and democratic Republic of Artsakh; and

Whereas, the republics of Armenia and Artsakh are bastions of freedom, liberty, and democracy in the region; and

Whereas, the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan openly promote a policy of “One Nation, Two States,” and indoctrinate their populations with Armenophobic hatred toward all Armenians as the obstacle to the unification of the two Turkic states within every cross-section of their societies, including primary schools, government institutions, and public political discourse, thereby explicitly encouraging racial hatred toward and ethnic cleansing of Armenians from the region; and

Whereas, the Republic of Turkey has long served as a destabilizing force in the region by illegally blockading the Republic of Armenia, targeting minority groups in Turkey, and destructively pursuing a foreign policy of occupation and targeted violence which has undermined security and peace in the region, marred by gross violations of international law; and

Whereas, on September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, launched an unprovoked attack on Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) with large-caliber weapons and thousands of mercenaries recruited from Syria, targeting not only military personnel, but civilian-populated centers, schools, churches, hospitals, and forests, while killing and injuring women, children, the elderly, and journalists, in violation of international law, thereby committing war crimes; and despite Azerbaijan’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions and its commitments in signing the ceasefire statement of November 9, Azerbaijan continued to detain approximately 200 Armenian POWs and civilian hostages, some of whom have been tortured and beheaded per Human Rights Watch reports and independent international media;

Whereas, these international crimes against humanity must still be prosecuted by international legal institutions; and

Whereas, Azerbaijan has continuously invaded and occupied the sovereign territories of the Republic of Armenia since May 2021, harming or killing civilians and destroying critical, non-military infrastructure; and

Whereas, the Republic of Artsakh functioned as a democratically-governed state since its declaration of independence but was landlocked with the sole means of ingress and egress being the road through the Lachin Corridor which connected it to the Republic of Armenia; and

Whereas, Azerbaijan began an illegal, genocidal blockade on the Lachin Corridor, the road of life connecting Artsakh to the world through Armenia, on December 12, 2022 that deprived 120,000 Armenians of food, medicine, gas, electricity, internet connectivity, and basic necessities; and

Whereas, Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade resulted in the complete incapacitation of hospitals as a result of scarce or depleted medications and equipment necessary to render care to critically-ill patients, as well as increased levels of stress, malnutrition, and anemia in more than 90% of pregnant women, tripling miscarriage rates; and

Whereas, On September 19, 2023, after more than 9 months of illegal blockade of Artsakh, Azerbaijan launched a full-scale invasion which devastated civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and homes, claiming the lives of countless civilians, forcing the ethnic cleansing of the more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians of Artsakh, and desecrated sacred Armenian sites as a continuation of Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s joint policy of genocide of the Armenian People; and

Whereas, in the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of Artsakh, it has illegally held Artsakh’s political and military leadership hostage, as well as dozens of civilian non-combatants, where they will face fabricated charges in Azerbaijan’s notoriously corrupt judicial system, as well as Armenian POWs, who are still held in Azerbaijani detention, in clear violation of the Third Geneva Convention; and

Whereas, Azerbaijani political leaders, including President Ilham Aliyev continuously threaten the sovereignty of Armenia and the survival of the Armenian Nation with their rhetoric and actions designed to incite hatred against all Armenians and to erase the Armenian presence from the South Caucasus region; and

Whereas, Armenians despite having endured all of these atrocities and more have demonstrated their remarkable resilience and determination to persevere against all odds.

Whereas, Armenia possesses a rich cultural heritage that has withstood the test of time, encompassing ancient architecture, traditional music, dance, and art forms, serving as a testament to the resilience of its people in preserving their identity and heritage.

Whereas, following the Armenian Genocide of 1915, Armenians dispersed across the globe, forming a resilient diaspora community that has maintained strong bonds with their culture and heritage, contributing significantly to the societies in which they reside while upholding their Armenian identity.

Whereas, Glendale is home to one of the largest Armenian American populations per capita in the Diaspora, and Armenians living in Glendale have enriched our City through their leadership and contribution in business, academia, government, the arts and every sector, and

Whereas, the City of Glendale has been at the forefront of encouraging and promoting a curriculum relating to human rights and genocide awareness to empower future generations to prevent the recurrence of genocide; and

Whereas, the City of Glendale and the Glendale City Council has committed itself to engaging in robust discussions about unity, solidarity, and support for victims of genocide, and the most effective methods of affirming the United States’ commitment to combatting distortion and denial of the historic facts of the Armenian Genocide and the ongoing Genocide of Armenians to date; and

Whereas, every person should be made aware and educated about the Armenian Genocide and other genocides and crimes against humanity; and

Whereas, we appreciate the efforts of the volunteers in organizing the City of Glendale’s Annual Armenian Genocide Commemorative event on April 21st and organizing the “Week of Remembrance;” and encourage the community to support and actively participate in the scheduled week of remembrance events.

Now, therefore, I Elen Asatryan, Mayor of the City of Glendale proclaim the month of April 2024 as Armenian Heritage Month, April 24, 2024, as the “Day of Commemoration of the 109th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide,” and April 20th through April 26th as the “Week of Remembrance,” and in doing so also request that the City of Glendale adopts an official Resolution and submit letters calling upon Congress and the U.S. President to:

  • Immediately provide $750 million in humanitarian aid to the more than 150,000 Armenians forcibly displaced as a result of Azerbaijan’s genocidal campaign against the Armenians of Artsakh, which commenced during its illegal invasion of Artsakh in September 2020 and continued for the next 3 plus years; and
  • Ensure the right-of-return for all who were forcibly displaced by Azerbaijan’s aggressions since September 27, 2020, the rights of the Armenians of Artsakh to extraterritorial self-determination (independence), in accordance with the principle of remedial secession and the global political commitment to Responsibility to Protect, and to hold Turkey and Azerbaijan accountable for their numerous and well-documented concerted efforts to commit genocide against the Armenian People by way of sanctions, halting U.S. military assistance, fully enforcing Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act; and
  • Engage with Azerbaijani authorities for the immediate return of Armenian POWs and hostages; and
  • Work toward equitable, constructive, stable, and durable Armenian-Turkish and Armenia-Azerbaijan relations based upon the Republic of Turkey’s and Republic of Azerbaijan’s full acknowledgement of the facts and ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide, and a fair, just, and comprehensive international resolution of this crime against humanity, including reparations to the Armenian Nation.

Elen Asatryan, Mayor
April 16, 2024