CSUN students remember the Armenian genocide

Jessica Estrada

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The Armenian Student Association is raising awareness of the Armenian genocide by displaying 115 crosses on the lawn behind Oviatt Library. The crosses represent the 1.5 million Armenians that perished in the 1915 genocide. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina / Staff Photographer

In remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, CSUN Armenian organizations will hold a public tribute for those who lost their lives.

The Armenian Student Association (ASA), Alpha Epsilon Omega fraternity (AEO) and the Alpha Gamma Alpha sorority (AGA) organized the Armenian Genocide education and commemoration week titled, “I am the 1.5 million.”

Talar Alexanian, ASA board member and philanthropy chair of AGA said the event isn’t just about victims of the genocide.

“Commemoration week is meant to promote unity and spread awareness, so crimes against humanity don’t keep happening,” Alexanian said.

The purpose of commemoration week is to educate students and bring awareness about the Armenian genocide, one of the first genocides of the 20th century. Posters and white ribbons were tied to trees around campus to attract attention.

The tribute includes a display of white crosses, behind the Oviatt Library, which represent the 1.5 million Armenians who were killed by the Ottomans near the end of World War I. Along with each cross are red carnations and a replica of an Armenian church.

Sarkis Hakopyan, philanthropy chair of AEO said it is important to remember past atrocities.

“The goal of the commemoration is to make people aware that genocide happened and still happens,” Hakopyan said.

“People only know about the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide is over looked. I want students to be aware and recognize the Armenian genocide and fight against genocide.”

An information booth, a timeline and maps are located on Matador Walk. T-shirts and wristbands will also be sold.

One map shows which countries have experienced genocide, another displays which U.S. states recognize the Armenian genocide and the last maps out the countries which recognize the Armenian genocide, Hakopyan said.

The displays are meant to raise awareness not just about the Armenian genocide but also about all genocides, said Ani Megerdichyan president of AGA and a member of ASA.

“It’s a bitter-sweet feeling,” she said. “We get to commemorate and celebrate the existence of our culture at the same time.”

On Wednesday night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. there will be an “Aghet” film screening that will take place in Sequoia Hall 104. The film is a documentary about the Armenian genocide created by a major television network in Germany.

Thursday night will conclude commemoration week with a candlelight vigil, music, dance and poetry readings on the Matador Bookstore Lawn. Composer Eric V. Hachikian is invited to speak. It will conclude with a moment of silence to remember those whose lives were lost.

“Me and my culture are still alive and are still here and we are remembering our grandparents and great grandparents who have suffered greatly,” Megerdichyan said.

The genocide was an annihilation of an entire culture and as many CSUN students as possible should be aware about the issue, Megerdichyan said. The Turks deny the genocide and say the deaths were a result of a war, she added.

“It is not that we are giving up on recognition, but for me awareness is more important,” Megerdichyan said. I want people to be aware of what happened and open their eyes to other cultures.”