Armenian Coalitions March For Genocide Recognition

Christine Aghakhani

Several blocks of Little Armenia in East Hollywood will be blocked off on April 24 for a Genocide March to commemorate the deaths of more than half a million people in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 to 1923.

Many of those expected to attend are GCC students who have signed up for the walk. Transportation will be provided by the United Armenian Students.

“We are also celebrating 1,700 years of Christianity in Armenia,” said Ani Nazaryan, a director of the United Armenian Students. “On the April 24 walk in Little Armenia there will be people on 17 corners protesting.”

Also on that day, there will be a march in front of the Turkish Consulate in the Wilshire District with participants from Armenian Students Associations throughout the region.

On the evening before, there will be a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. at UCLA’s Westwood Plaza. “This will not be a protest,” said Nazaryan. “There will be a poetry reading, a “duduk” (an Armenian musical instrument) performance, along with priests for spiritual awakening.”

“There are numerous local activities planned,” said Levon Marashlian, a history professor at GCC. There will be many lectures throughout the community and in public schools, including several lectures by Marashlian at Woodbury University, Ribet Academy, St. Mary Armenian Church in Costa Mesa and elsewhere.

Students of all ethnic backgrounds are welcome to attend the events. “It’s a human rights issue, not just an Armenian thing,” said Nazaryan. “People need to be aware of massacres that have gone unrecognized in the past.”

There have been ongoing attempts to introduce an Armenian Genocide Resolution in Congress, with Glendale’s Representative Adam Schiff most recently taking up the cause. Resistance has come from those who fear such a resolution would endanger relations with Turkey.

In his Ethnic Studies 164 class, in addition to covering many topics, Marashlian says he stresses “the contemporary politics surrounding the importance of remembering all genocides such as the Holocaust and the recent genocide in Rwanda, as a way of helping to prevent new genocides.”

A variety of student organizations are involved in genocide projects. The MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) group at CSUN is involved in a documentary on the history of the Armenian people, and the Student Problems Identifying and Resolving It Together (SPIRIT) groups of Glendale schools has joined UAS in fundraisers for these events.

“Our [UAS’] main goal is to unify students,” said Nazaryan. “History needs not to repeat itself. We shall learn from past genocides so that we can avoid them in the future.” Nazaryan is currently working with a production company on a genocide film and is also writing a book on the issue.