San Gabriel Valley Tribune – More than 1,000 members of Southern California’s Armenian community gathered here Saturday to reflect on the terrors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, and call for justice for atrocities both historical and contemporary, in observance of the 101st anniversary of the mass killings.
Community and spiritual leaders were joined by local, state and national elected officials beneath Montebello’s towering Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument for the annual observation hosted by the United Armenian Council of Los Angeles.
“We are a people who have faced annihilation,” Armenian National Committee of American Chairman Raffi Hamparian said. “We have one choice, and that is to rise. To rise to this particular occasion.”
In addition for calling on the U.S. to recognize the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915, speakers called for recognition of the current violence faced by Armenians living in the Artsakh region of Azerbaijan, where a long-running conflict escalated into deadly violence on April 2.
Hamparian read the names of five Armenian Artsakh residents killed in the recent violence.
“He died three weeks ago in defense of Artsakh. He died to prevent another Armenian Genocide. He died for you and me,” he repeated after listing each name.
“Death is the same everywhere. A man will die but once. But blessed is he who dies for the freedom of his nation,” Hamparian said.
Hamparian and others scolded the Obama administration for its “shameful” refusal to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Additional speakers included former U.S. Ambassador John Marshall Evans, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian.
Other dignitaries in attendance included U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
Garcetti joined the chorus of voices calling for federal recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
“Denial opens those wounds, not just for the Armenian people, but for all of us who are thinking, feeling human beings,” the mayor said.
He added that he was thrilled last year, when tens of thousands of people joined in a march commemorating the genocide.
“It was one of the largest marches in Los Angeles history,” Garcetti said.