CHICAGO ARMENIANS MARK 97TH ANNIVERSARY OF GENOCIDE

Armenian Weekly
April 25, 2012

CHICAGO, Ill.-Hundreds of Armenians from the Greater Chicago area took
part in a week-long series of events to mark the 97thAnniversary of
the Armenian Genocide this week. The events were organized by a variety
of community organizations and included a blood drive, demonstration,
commemorative programs, and special requiem services to honor the
memory of the 1.5 million martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.

Armenian community members demand justice in front of the Turkish
Consulate in Chicago.

The week's events began with a commemorative program organized by the
Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Illinois held in Shahnasarian
Hall at the Armenian All Saints Community Center in Glenview on
Sat., April 21. The event began with an inspiring presentation of
the colors ceremony by the Chicago Homenetmen Scouts Drum Corps, who
also performed the national anthems. The ANC of Illinois chairperson,
Aline Barsoumian, opened the program with a moment of silence in
memory of the victims of the genocide, and recited a quote in Armenian
from her grandfather which, loosely translated, said, "Strong will,
hard work, and perseverance are the qualities that will surely lead to
success no matter where or when." She discussed how this quote closely
paralleled progress on the Armenian Cause. "Echoing the words of my
grandfather, whose family barely escaped death in 1915 from their
hometown in Aintab, three generations of strong will, hard work,
and perseverance will lead to our goals of genocide recognition,
reparations, and a strong and independent Armenia and Karabagh."

Barsoumian's remarks were followed by a presentation to the Armenian
community of a proclamation issued by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. The
proclamation, which declared April 24, 2012 as a Day of Remembrance
of the Armenian Genocide, was read by Maral Abrahamian. After the
presentation, Barsoumian invited special guest Illinois Cong Robert
Dold (R-10), co-author of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the
House of Representatives, to address the audience.

Ambassador John Evans Dold stressed the importance of U.S. recognition
of the Armenian Genocide. "For the past 90 years, the Armenian people
have sought justice, yet the Turkish government has continued to
actively obstruct any attempt to recognize what has happened to the
Armenian people." He added, "The United States can help bring closure
to this longstanding moral issue by recognizing the Armenian Genocide."

Stephanie Killian was then invited to provide an update on ANC
activities. Killian highlighted the pivotal role played by Dold and
Illinois Senator Mark Kirk (R), who co-authored the Armenian Genocide
Resolution in the Senate, as well as a series of other initiatives.

Killian then invited ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian to the podium to
introduce the featured speaker of the evening, former U.S. Ambassador
to Armenia John Evans. Hachikian described his first encounter with
Evans in Yerevan, and went on to elaborate how Evans was recalled as
ambassador and subsequently retired from the Foreign Service following
his remarks characterizing the 1915 massacre and deportations of
Armenians as "genocide" while speaking to the Armenian American
community in 2005. He then welcomed Evans to the podium, where he
was greeted with a standing ovation.

Evans stressed that the U.S. government has clearly recognized the
Armenian Genocide on several occasions, beginning as far back as 1951.

The current policy, while placating Turkey, will not be able to
withstand the weight of the truth and will eventually yield. He stated
that prior to his comments on the genocide, his predecessors were
not readily able to discuss the State Department's policy on using
the term. Since his comments, subsequent U.S. ambassadors to Armenia
have been able to more freely engage the topic, although the policy
appears to remain unchanged.

Hachikian then returned to the podium to discuss the upcoming ANCA
Endowment Telethon, and encouraged everyone to invest in strengthening
Armenian American political power. The ANCA Telethon will take place
on May 20.

On the following day, April 22, community members flocked to a series
of activities taking place at Armenian All Saints Church and Community
Center in Glenview. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., dozens donated blood in
memory of the 1915 victims at a blood drive organized by the Armenian
Relief Society (ARS) "Zabelle" Chapter, which took place in the newly
renovated Hudaverdian Hall. At mid-day, a special requiem service
in memory of the martyrs was held in the sanctuary of Armenian All
Saints Church, conducted by Archpriest Rev. Zareh Sahakian. Following
the requiem, the Chicago Homenetmen scouts led a procession from the
church to the Genocide Memorial for a wreath-laying ceremony.

At the ceremony, ARF "Christapor" Gomideh Chair Greg Bedian offered
remarks, in which he urged those present to deepen their commitment to
their community and to their nation as a response to the genocide. "It
is only through our collective sacrifice, and our collective will,
that we will ensure our homeland not only survives but also prospers,
that we not only preserve our culture but make it flourish, and that
we regain what is rightfully ours in order to secure the future of
our nation," he concluded.

On Tues., April 24, a large group of Armenians, along with
Pontic Greeks and others from across Greater Chicago, gathered in
front of the Turkish Consulate in Chicago to demonstrate against
genocide denial. Organized by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF)
Chicago "Ararat" Chapter, the protest went on for over two hours as
demonstrators chanted, waived flags, and carried placards. Armenian
demonstrators far out numbered the poorly organized Turkish
counter-protest, apparently arranged by the Turkish Consulate,
whose participants waved Turkish flags, shouted obscenities, and
chanted in Turkish. Chicago police kept the two groups separated,
and no serious incidents were reported.

On Tuesday evening, at the St. James Armenian Church in Evanston, a
special requiem service was held with the participation of clergy and
parishioners from St. James, St. Gregory's Church in Chicago, and Sts.

Joachim and Anne Church in Palos Heights. Following the requiem,
a memorial concert was held in Nishan Hall featuring a performance
by Sar Sarkisyan from Artsakh.

Chicago's week of commemorative activities will conclude with a
screening of the award-winning documentary film "Voyage to Amasia" on
Sun., April 29, organized by the ANC of Illinois. The film traces the
journey of Eric Hachikian to his grandmother's ancestral home in Amasia
to uncover what her life in Turkey might have been like. The screening
will take place in Shahnasarian Hall at the All Saints Community
Center in Glenview at 2 p.m. A question and answer session with film
makers Randy Bell and Eric Hachikian will follow the screening.



From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress