Armenian Youth Groups Raise Funds for Protest

Catherine Yesayan, El Vaquero Guest Columnist

Watching television to avoid the unusually heavy rains of March 25, I came across a fundraising program on one of the Glendale local Armenian channels. It was a telethon organized by Unified Young Armenians (UYA) to raise money for a march in Hollywood commemorating the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

It was heartwarming to see a group of young Armenians putting together a successful telethon. I was drawn into the program. The next day I called the office to meet the group and learn more about their activities.

Aroutin Hartounian, the president of the group, was 14 when his family immigrated from Iran to the U.S. in 1999. Now at 27, he is an aspiring and ambitious young man studying at Southwestern Law School.

Hartounian said that the telethon brought $42,000 in pledges, which covered a fraction of the expenses of organizing the walk. The rest of the funds were raised during a Christmas dinner-dance and other donations throughout the year.

The UYA was formed in 2000 with a vision to promote world peace and understanding and to seek justice for human rights, envisioning a world free from genocide.

The group organized its first walk on April 24, 2001, in Hollywood. The purpose of the walk, then and now, is to demonstrate and make the world hear about the cruelty of the Ottoman Turks toward Armenians and to demand recognition and an overdue reparation.

Since then, thousands of people have participated in the walk every year.

The walk was to begin at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Hobart and Hollywood Boulevard. The route was east on Hollywood Boulevard and then south on Normandie Avenue to Sunset Boulevard and then back to the starting intersection.

The distance to be covered was 1.5 miles, chosen as a symbolic figure for the annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks.

The UYA selected that particular route first because it falls in the heart of a neighborhood called Little Armenia, and second because it is close to major radio and TV stations.

Traffic was closed along the route during the April 24 march.

There was free bus transportation available, departing from 11 different locations, such as St Mary’s Armenian Church in Glendale and Whole Foods Market in Glendale.

Another youth group, one with deep roots and a long tradition in the Armenian community, is the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), which was founded under the auspices of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) in 1933 in Boston.

The Glendale “Roupen” Chapter of the AYF hosted a rally “One Voice, One Cause,” at St. Mary’s Church on April 15, signifying the rebirth of the Armenian nation. The few hundred crowd enjoyed food and music played by the Element Band, the Palm of Granite and others.

On Sunday, a bike ride will be organized by the Valley’s “Sardarabad” Chapter. The event is called “Cycle Against Denial.”

Catherine Yesayan is a former Insider staff reporter and current GCC student. Her blog, Beyond the Blue Domes is an exploration of Armenian-Iranian-American culture. See for further information.