Nearly 10,000 people dressed in black holding flags, banners and signs marched in Little Armenia Friday morning in Hollywood in protest of Turkey’s failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Protestors also decried President Barack Obama’s failure to use the word ‘genocide.’
Obama issued a statement about the genocide saying his views have not changed, but refrained from using the word genocide. Instead he twice referred to ‘Meds Yeghern,’ which are words used by Armenians in reference to the events of 1915.
This year marks the 94th anniversary of the first genocide of the 20th century when under the guise of WWI, the Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire systematically killed 1.5 million Armenians. To this day, Turkey refuses to acknowledge the genocide.
Protester Aghasi Kirakosian, 75, said, ‘They massacred Armenians and Turkey denies it without shame. Whoever doesn’t recognize it is equally guilty.’
Obama’s statement read: ‘Ninety four years ago, one of the great atrocities of the 20th century began. Each year, we pause to remember the 1.5 million Armenians who were subsequently massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. The Meds Yeghern must live on in our memories, just as it lives on in the hearts of the Armenian people.’
Harut Sassounian, a publisher and human rights advocate, said the president broke his campaign promise of properly recognizing the Armenian genocide. ‘It’s a clever ploy on his part just like many presidents before him who used euphemisms and word gymnastics.’ Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council president, spoke at the protest organized by Unified Young Armenians. Garcetti urged the president to use the word genocide.
‘There is no debate. There is no ambiguity. There is only the horrors of a genocide. Call it what it is. Say the right word and call it a genocide,’ said Garcetti. Sassounian said a simple acknowledgement or an apology on Turkey’s part would not do.’
‘In 1915 an attempt was made to destroy an entire nation in its ancestral homeland, depriving the survivors of their cultural heritage as well as their homes, lands, houses of worship and personal property,’ he said. ‘A gross injustice was perpetrated against the Armenians, which entitles them to demand compensation.’
Protests continued later in the day in front of the Turkish Consulate and a commemoration was held in Montebello attended by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congressman Adam Schiff and state senator Carol Liu (D).’
‘Turkey’s guilty of genocide,’ shouted the thousands of protestors, ‘recognize the genocide, recognize history.’ ‘