The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact the Sundial

Loading Recent Classifieds...

Armenian community gathers to commemorate genocide

The 1915 Armenian genocide was commemorated by more than 200 Armenian-American students, parents, CSUN faculty and community members as they gathered for a candlelight vigil April 20 on the Matador Bookstore Lawn.

The Armenian Student Association held its annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the estimated 1.5 million Armenians who were killed as result of the genocide.

“(The vigil is about) remembering and commemorating all those 1.5 million souls that were massacred, and also as a way of saying that the youth generation hasn’t forgotten about our ancestors,” said Christina Malyan, CSUN alumni and current president of Alpha Omega Alpha Sorority.

The event included several speeches, student performances, and a video highlighting the history and struggles of the Armenian community since the genocide.

Many people who attended the event wore black clothing – a traditional sign of mourning.

“We’re fighting to preserve our culture,” said Marina Terteryan, vice president of the ASA.

Terteryan said Armenians are constantly fighting to validate their history.

“All we have is our culture, the minute we let go of that ? we have nothing,” she said.

Ani Asatryan, president of the ASA, said the event was held to build a greater social, cultural and political awareness of the Armenian genocide at CSUN.

“Our goal is to educate the diverse community of students on campus,” Asatryan said. “A majority of students interviewed by the ASA on campus didn’t know about the Armenian genocide.”

She said the information about the Armenian genocide should be taught at CSUN, adding that there is a lack of recognition and classes available about Armenian history.

“This is an educational institution and it’s not right to omit parts of history that factually happened for social and political reasons,” Asatryan said.

She said the Armenian genocide is just as important for all students to know as any other subject in history.

During her speech, Asatryan said people need to know what happened to Armenians 91 years ago, because they should not be ignored or forgotten.

Students who attended the vigil expressed why the commemoration of the genocide was important to them and to the community.

“We like to educate the non-Armenians about the Armenian genocide and what happened because it happened to the Armenians, it happened in Africa, it happened to the Bosnians, to the Jewish people, and one day it might happen to other races, and we’d like everybody to be aware of it, and to fight for recognition of the genocide because once there is worldwide acceptance of all these genocides, then other governments would be fearful of committing another genocide because they would be held accountable for it,” said Armen Oganesian, president of the Alpha Epsilon Omega fraternity.

Allen Minas, junior political science major, said the vigil was about honoring those Armenians who suffered and died during the genocide, adding that the vigil was also aimed at uniting the Armenian community.

“It’s about Armenians uniting and recognizing our heritage for what it is,” Minas said.

Organizers and speakers at the event said the “Young Turk” government of the Ottoman Empire carried out the genocide, adding that Turkey has not recognized or admitted to any responsibility for the genocide.

United States Congressmember Adam Schiff, a Democrat whose district runs from Burbank to Pasadena and Monterey Park, and other members of the House of Representatives proposed the Armenian Genocide Legislation (Resolution 195) that urges Turkey to acknowledge the role of the Ottoman Empire in the 1915 Armenian genocide.

The House International Relations Committee passed the resolution; however, the resolution has not been enacted by the House.

“There is no hiding the fact that one and a half million Armenians where deliberately murdered at the beginning of the 20th century, and it is high time that we as a nation recognized these heinous crimes for what they were: a genocide. We need to acknowledge these horrible atrocities of the past in order to progress towards a brighter future,” Schiff said through his spokesperson Sean Oblack.

Malyan said the resolution allows for more recognition of the Armenian genocide.

“It’s a very crucial moment in our time, in our history because finally a non-Armenian in Congress and our larger government body is actually accepting it, and it’s one step closer to voicing our opinion at Washington D.C.,” Malyan said.

Oganesian expressed similar sentiments.

“The importance of getting this issue recognized is that it would force Turkey to recognize what they did. America is a major political player around the world. If America accepts this ? we’re one step closer to having Turkey accept it ? which is our ultimate goal,” Oganesian said.

The Alpha Epsilon Omega fraternity is also trying to increase recognition of the Armenian genocide and crimes against humanity through the “Never Again” campaign that launched last year.

“We know that the United States has such tremendous power that it can actually influence the world, so if the U.S. does end up accepting the genocide then we might actually see a change from other countries, and that will be (a) step forward for everybody,” Malyan said.

More to Discover