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Armenian community gathers to commemorate genocide

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  • Armenian community gathers to commemorate genocide

    Daily Sundial, CA
    California State Univ. Northridge
    April 22 2006

    Armenian community gathers to commemorate genocide
    Sandy Archila
    Issue date: 4/24/06 Section: News

    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

    "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

    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

    "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

    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