Sid Reddy

Daily Bruin /armenian-community-time-doesnt-heal-all-wounds/
A pril 30 2010

On a chilly Tuesday evening, UCLA alumna Soseh Keshishyan stood
before a group gathered on the steps of Burbank City Hall and sang
"The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Mer Hayrenik," the national anthem
of the Republic of Armenia.

She was followed by performers playing duduks, woodwind instruments
native to the Caucasus region. Members of the crowd carried painted
signs declaring, "We Will Never Forget, We Will Never Forgive," and,
"Shame on Turkey."

The group congregated in front of city hall to commemorate the
95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide with a proclamation and a
candlelight vigil.

The Meds Yeghern, or the Great Crime, which is the Armenian term for
the genocide, began on April 24, 1915. On that day, prominent members
of the Armenian community were arrested and deported from the city
of Constantinople, now known as Istanbul.

According to a University of Michigan website, the genocide began with
the roundup of Armenians in the Ottoman army by the Young Turk party,
a military officer movement in the Ottoman Empire. The army officers
were placed into separate groups and killed. Then community leaders
and intellectuals were forcefully removed from Constantinople. This
is considered the start of the genocide. The Ottoman government then
informed the general Armenian population that they would be relocated
and marched them into the Syrian desert. There they were starved,
tortured and killed by their guards.

The majority of historians and scholars recognize that the forced
marches and brutal conditions killed between one and one and a half
million Armenians, according to a BBC article. The government of
Turkey and some scholars, on the other hand, refuse to classify the
events as a genocide and claim that the deaths were a part of the
general civil unrest and upheaval during the war and the last days of
the Ottoman Empire. They claim that, although these events occurred,
they were not premeditated in nature, nor did they target the entire
Christian-Armenian people.

Whether the genocide occurred is not a historical issue but a
political one, said Richard Hovannisian, UCLA professor of modern
Armenian history.

Over 20 countries and 43 states have passed bills acknowledging
the genocide, according to the Armenian National Institute website,
However, the United States has yet to officially label the murders
as genocide.

"Unfortunately, as long as we're in Iraq fighting and as long as
NATO is sitting in Turkey, it is an uphill battle (for the Armenian
community to have the genocide recognized)," said Armond Aghakhanian,
a member of the Armenian National Committee Burbank chapter and
chairman of its genocide committee.

The border between Armenia and Turkey has remained closed since 1993,
and attempts to normalize relations between the two nations have
gone nowhere.

"Based on politics, I don't think (the talks) will (restart diplomatic
relations)," said Abraham Barsegyan, president of the Armenian Student
Association of UCLA.

"Many people in Armenia would want to open the border for trade with
Turkey because it would result in more jobs and economic growth,"
Barsegyan said. However, he added that it should not come at the cost
of allowing Turkey to deny the genocide took place.

The acceptance of the events is significant for members of the Armenian
community because it allows for the education and possible prevention
of such incidents in the future.

"One and a half million lives were lost and we don't want them to
be forgotten," Barsegyan said. "They must be remembered so that this
never happens again."

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress