Montebello hosts exhibit commemorating 98th anniversary of Armenian Genocide, the Pasadena Star-News reports.
On Wednesday, Montebello city officials debuted an exhibit called the “The Ongoing Armenian Genocide: Death, Denial and Desecration” from the Armenian Library and Museum of America to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the tragic events.
The temporary display is in addition to the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument that was first unveiled in April 1968 at Bicknell Park.
“I have been a citizen and resident of Montebello for too many years and I remember in 1968 when this council had the fortitude, strength and belief in justice and fairness to stand up against all odds … like they always have for justice and fairness,” said Levon Kirakosian, a member of the Armenian National Committee of America San Gabriel Valley Chapter.
“You have carried the legacy of your forefathers who were here before,” Kirakosian said to the council.
The exhibit demonstrates how from 1915 through 1923 as many as 1.5 million Armenians were systematically slain by the Ottoman Turks in what was then the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian community commemorates the genocide on April 24.
Especially touched by the display was Councilman Jack Hadjinian, whose grandfather, Senekerim “Sam” Arakelian, was spared from the mass murders as a young boy and lived to be 98 years old.
“I am the grandchild of a genocide survivor, so this is not just a historical event,” Hadjinian said. “It’s part of my family history. It’s the common denominator for the Armenian history. These people fled to survive and had to start a new life again. America has been very promising and good to my people.”
According to Hadjinian, Arakelian was about 13 years old when he witnessed his father and uncle’s execution.
“My grandfather only survived because they gave the women and children a chance to live and at the time, two Turkish soldiers were debating whether he was a young boy or young man,” Hadjinian said. “If he was a young man they would have killed him. ”
“The importance of the exhibit is not only to call Turkey to task,” Kirakosian said. “It’s for education. It’s to understand that we will never again allow this to happen. We have seen it in Darfur, Rwanda and other places. We have to, as a people, say genocide is not just a crime against humanity. It’s a crime against all of us. ”
The exhibit will be on display for the next week in the lobby of City Hall at 1600 W. Beverly Blvd.