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UCSB Students Remember Armenian Genocide

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  • UCSB Students Remember Armenian Genocide

    Daily Nexus, CA
    University of California, Santa Barbara
    April 22 2006

    SB Students Remember Armenian Genocide

    By Sabrina Ricci - Staff Writer
    Published Friday April 21, 2006

    Roughly 120 people went to I.V. Theater last night for an Armenian
    Students Association-sponsored commemoration of the Armenian Genocide
    - a massacre, many attendees said, that the responsible parties hope
    to forget.

    The event commemorated the 1.5 million Armenians who died during the
    Armenian Genocide, which occurred between 1915 and 1918 and then
    again from 1920 to1923 in Turkey, when it was under the control of
    the Ottoman Empire. Several governments, including those of Turkey
    and the United States, do not officially recognize the genocide.

    Global Studies Dept. professor Richard Falk, who was the event's
    keynote speaker, was featured among cultural dancers, a musical
    performance and a video presentation focusing on mass murders
    throughout the 20th century. Falk spoke mostly about the refusal of
    the Turkish government to recognize the genocide.

    "I think there's beginning to be cracks in the Turkish culture of
    denial, and those cracks need to be widened," Falk said.

    ASA External Coordinator and second-year political science major Greg
    Mirza-Avakyan said many ASA members have family who were victims in
    the genocide.

    "Basically, our people's historical homeland was invaded and
    conquered before the genocide," Mirza-Avakyan said. "April 24 was the
    day the whole thing began. Intellectuals and prominent people were
    shot and burned, and it was orchestrated by the government. That's
    why it's a big deal."

    Mirza-Avakyan said some people believe the great number of Armenians
    who died were victims of the clashes of World War I, rather than a
    planned mass murder. But testimony from Mirza-Avakyan's family proves
    otherwise: Mirza-Avakyan's great-grandfather lived through the
    genocide, but five of his seven brothers and sisters starved to
    death, and his father was murdered.

    Both former President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush
    promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide during their terms in
    office, Mirza-Avakyan said, but both have failed to do so.
    Mirza-Avakyan said he thinks both presidents' reluctance to
    officially recognize the genocide stems from fear that doing so would
    harm U.S. relations with Turkey.

    "America has military bases in Turkey," Mirza-Avakyan said.

    ASA President and fourth-year business and economics major Hermine
    Barseghian said both of her great-grandparents survived the genocide.

    "My great-grandmother on my mother's side survived by going into an
    orphanage," Barseghian said. "Her parents were killed. Most of the
    survivors were forced to flee the country."

    Barseghian said many survivors migrated to different countries in the
    Middle East, such as Lebanon, and others went to the U.S.

    Barseghian said her great-grandmother's father was a doctor in a
    village who was informed about the impending danger. He dressed up as
    a woman and attempted to flee but was caught and killed on the spot.

    "We grew up learning and hearing about these stories," Barseghian

    April 24 is the official commemoration day of the Armenian Genocide,
    but Mirza-Avakyan said there will be a big march in Los Angeles on
    that day, and ASA wanted to hold the event on April 20 so ASA members
    could attend.

    "A lot of Armenians will be [in Los Angeles], including a lot of our
    members," Mirza-Avakyan said. "Last year there were over 30,000

    Mirza-Avakyan said the march will start on Hollywood Boulevard where
    a few blocks of L.A. known as Little Armenia will be blocked off. He
    said everyone will wear black and carry flags and signs that say,
    "Recognize the Genocide."