Armenian Genocide Victims Remembered on 97th Anniversary
Thousands took to the streets of Hollywood Tuesday April 24 to observe Genocide Remembrance Day.
Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 22:05
Carrying signs and flags and chanting lamentations, more than 4,000 marched through the Little Armenia neighborhood of Hollywood Tuesday to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
The march, sponsored by Unified Young Armenians, started at Hollywood and Hobart boulevards and ended at Sunset Boulevard and Hobart, with a stage set up for speakers to address the crowd.
“By consistently remembering and openly condemning the atrocities committed against the Armenians, Los Angeles County demonstrates its sensitivity to the need for constant vigilance to prevent similar events in the future,” said Michael Antonovich, a supervisor for Los Angeles County, which counts 200,000 Armenians among its population according to the 2010 U.S. Census; the largest Armenian population in the United States. “Due to this horrible tragedy, the Armenian community is committed to ensuring that those who were tortured, enslaved, forcibly tattooed as property and killed during this massacre are never forgotten.”
The mood of the march was mostly a celebratory one, honoring those who died, but had somber moments, with some carrying signs with photos of relatives who were victims of the genocide.
During the procession, some of the more impassioned demonstrators chanted “Shame on Turkey” and repeated “1.5 million”—the number of Armenians it is estimated were killed over the span of the eight-year genocide.
The genocide, which occurred in present-day Turkey between 1915 and 1923, saw 1.5 million Armenian civilians killed and numerous more deported in an effort by the Ottoman Empire to ethnically cleanse the region.
Genocide Remembrance Day is commemorated April 24 because it was on that day in 1915, known as Red Sunday, which more than 250 Armenian philosophers, educators and other notable members of the Armenian community were arrested to later be executed or deported.
Controversy surrounds the events still today, as the Turkish government abstains from recognizing the events as “genocide,” despite dozens of other governments around the world, doing so. Most historians and human rights organizations, including the Genocide Scholars Association, the leading organization on genocide research, also categorize the events as “genocide.”
In February, the French government attempted to pass a bill that would criminalize the denial of the genocide, with the maximum punishment of a year in prison and €45,000 ($60,000) fine, causing the Turkish government to impose economic sanctions against France and withdraw its military and political cooperation from its ally. The bill was passed by the senate but ultimately rejected by the French Constitutional Council. This was the latest instance of the terminology causing international strife between Turkey and other nations. In 2006, Turkey withdrew from a NATO exercise after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper used the word “genocide.”
“This is about the fight to recognize this tragic event for what it was: a genocide,” said Los Angeles City Councilman and mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti.