Armenians Condemn Turkish Denial of 1915 Genocide

Eric Konarki

Torture, rape, and massacre were among the actions of the Ottoman Empire ruled by Muslim Turks against Armenian Christians.

More than 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children were brutally slaughtered during and after World War I.

From 1894 to 1896 and 1909 the first series of massacres took place. Also, in 1920 another series of massacres began.

The conventional date of the genocide is on April 24, 1915, when 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were arrested by Ottoman authorities.

The Ottoman Empire led Armenians into forced marches, deprived them of food and water. Also, rape, kidnapping and murder took place in the deserts that are now Syria.

The marches were held over hundreds of miles, resulting in the deaths of the Armenians. The Ottoman military also raided homes and burned down villages.

The Ottoman Empire, which is now Turkey, does not recognize these events as genocide. The first genocide of the 20th century still holds pain which can only begin healing with recognition.

During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, Armenians were not equal citizens. They endured hardship, excessive taxes and second-class citizenship.

After World War 1, Turkey agreed to let the United States draw the border between the Turkish government and the new Republic of Armenia. This is known as Wilsonian Armenia. Wilsonian Armenia included most of the six western Ottoman provinces and a large coastline on the Black Sea.

On the 50th anniversary, the survivors and their children all over the world began commemorating the Genocide on April 24.

Across the world, many monuments as well as small plaques have been built in commemoration and remembrance for the unfortunate and unsuccessful elimination of the Armenians.

In the past few decades, the Turkish government has denied the genocide and spent millions of dollars to keep the truth hidden.

In Congress, legislators like Rep. Adam Schiff, Dem.-Glendale, have introduced legislation urging the U.S. to condemn the massacre. The last such bill, introduced by Schiff in 2007, failed to pass.

Los Angeles County holds the highest population of Armenians in the United States. Glendale has been a sanctuary for generations of Armenians; also Glendale is a point of entry for immigrants from Armenia, as well as Armenians emigrating from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, the former Soviet Union and Turkey.

In Glendale and surrounding cities, many commemorative events take place on April 24. At the Alex Theatre, the city of Glendale honored the Armenian Genocide with a 90-minute presentation featuring the 25-piece Mikael Avetisyan Chamber Orchestra and the 70-voice choir with a special performance by opera singer Gegam Grigorian, Jivan Gasparian Jr. and the Glendale High School Choir. The keynote speaker was Carla Garapedian, director and producer of the documentary Screamers, a documentary that followed the Rock band “System of a Down” as the tour the United States and Europe acknowledging modern genocide.

In little Armenia in Hollywood a march reenacted the marches forced by the Turks.

A protest took place at the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles, staged not only to remember the victims but to bring justice and acknowledge the genocide.

At the Glendale Civic Auditorium, an event hosted by the Armenian Genocide United Commemorative Committee, featured guest speakers California State Sen. Jack Scott and California Assemblymember Paul Krekorian.

During a candlelight vigil in Burbank on April 22, Krekorian said, “Imagine the death toll of 9/11 occurring every day for two years and that gives you an idea of the magnitude of the Armenian Genocide.”