Students demonstrate against Armenian Genocide denial

A+student+form+The+Armenian+Student+Association+holds+a+%22Stain+of+Denial%22++demonstration+on+Thursday%2C+Feb.+4%2C+in+order+to+bring+awareness+to+students+about+the+1915+Armenian+Genocide.+%28Ashley+Grant%5C+The+Sundial%29

A student form The Armenian Student Association holds a "Stain of Denial" demonstration on Thursday, Feb. 4, in order to bring awareness to students about the 1915 Armenian Genocide. (Ashley Grant\ The Sundial)

Ashley Grant

CSUN students sat in silence in front of the Oviatt Library on Feb. 4, during the annual “Stain of Denial” silent protest.

Students held signs that read “Educate. Advocate. Make a Difference,” and “Crime Unpunished is a Crime Encouraged.”

The Armenian Student Association has held events such as this one throughout the years; in order to get students involved in raising awareness about the 1915 Armenian Genocide and expressing the need for recompense.

“CSUN holds the largest population of Armenian students at a four-year university, outside of Armenia,” said Christine Dashdemirians, CSUN’s ASA president. “About eight to 10 percent of the population on campus out of the 42,000 are of Armenian descent.”

Dashdemirians, who is majoring in Liberal Studies and also working to receive her Multiple Subject Teaching Credentials, stood on the edge of the walkway passing out red tape and signs to participants.

“This our way of showing we are here, we are proud to be Armenian and this was what happened over a 100 years ago,” said Dashdemirians. “We are still fighting for recognition year round.”

The Armenian Genocide was a tragic event orchestrated by the Ottoman Empire, now present day Turkey, which claimed the lives of 1.5 million innocent Armenian people and still until this day remains unacknowledged by many.

“Turkey has a gag rule on the United States because of the military basis and they don’t let them speak or use the word genocide,” said Hakop Oganesyan, ASA vice president and English major. “When candidates are running for election they open their mouths, they say that they are going to recognize the genocides and then once they have the Armenian vote, they don’t.”

All participants involved in the protest wore black clothing along with red duct tape displaying the word ‘denial’ placed over their lips.

“The tape represents how the silence has affected us over hundreds of years,” said Oganesyan. “We have no more words to say. There is no reason for us to chant. Silence is stronger.”

For people walking by the silent protest, many didn’t know whether to stop and stare, ask questions or continue to walk on and not acknowledge the event happening in front of them.

“It looks like people raising awareness about something that’s not being paid attention to,” said Jasmine Mulero, a sophomore majoring in Business Management. “I don’t know why they are sitting there, but it made me stop and look.”

Amy Saravia, a junior majoring in Recreation and Tourism Management, also was drawn in to the protest.

“I got chills when I saw them sitting with their mouths covered,” said Saravia. “You never really see things like this around CSUN. I think this was brought to students in a big way.”

Besides the silent protest being held on campus, students have found other ways to spread their message.

In order to bring more exposure to this protest and help spread the awareness about genocides, hashtags such as #StainOfDenial, #ArmenianGenocide and #ourwoundsarestillopen have been circulating all over various social media outlets.

“If we can educate people on what happened before, then the same mistakes won’t occur,” said Oganesyan. “We need the memberships; we need everybody to get involved. It doesn’t matter if you are Armenian, Turkish, anything, as long as we can get people involved.”

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In remembrance of the 1.5 million lives lost in the Armenian Genocide, no words were spoken during a demonstration, held on Thursday, Feb. 4, in front of the Oviatt Library walkway.
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