Students passing through the Plaza Vaquero on Thursday at noon couldn’t help but stop to observe
the tombstones, shoes
and carefully placed candles commemorating the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
“How are we different from animals if we just roam around slaughtering each other? Recognizing such events as the Armenian genocide will prevent things of such sorts from repeating again,” said Armen Kiramijyan, student president of GCC.
The event commemorating the Armenian genocide also reminded students of all genocides taken place within the century, including the Cambodian genocide of 1975, the genocide of the Tasmanian and Aborigines in Australia as well as the Holocaust. The dates and lives claimed were written out on cardboard tombstones that were placed around a pile of shoes symbolizing the dead.
“As students we are out here to spread the message.they [victims] were neglected,” said Armenian Students Association adviser Stephan Sogomonyan.
“We put this event together today as a commemoration.with the support of all students we want to teach students and faculty, even though it [the genocide] was 90 years ago we are still going to fight for justice,” said ASA’s president Arineh Petrosian.
The Turkish Ottoman Empire fueled by expansionism and ethnocentrism initiated and carried out the Armenian genocide, claiming the lives of an estimated 1.7 million men, women and children. When news of the atrocities reached the Western world, allied French and British forces put a stop to the Ottoman Empire’s actions.
Some students have mixed feelings about the commemoration of genocides.
“I think there are horrible things going on all the time. The holocaust was politically advantageous for us to recognize in this country … I think its good people are putting light on the Armenian genocide because they are looking at it to make sure it doesn’t happen again and not to gain something from it,” said Lucy Bell a GCC student.
“I think people will have a better understanding from it [genocide] but they won’t learn from it as easily … They [people] have to learn from experience,” said Brandon Trice a GCC student.
The event included numerous published newspaper articles from 1915, some printed in America. Toward the end of the event students recited poetry and even sang for the commemoration of the genocide.
“Its very important for everyone to recognize this genocide … I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the other half of the [Armenian] population surviving,” said Hakop Sogomonyan, vice president of campus activities.