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‘Reinvigorated, united’

Hundreds gather at Alex Theatre to commemorate the Armenian Genocide.

April 24, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

In the wake of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s announcement to suspend all efforts to normalize relations with Turkey, hundreds of people gathered at the Alex Theatre to commemorate the first genocide of the 20th century.

And while attendees Friday did not bear witness to the start of the mass exterminations, many mourned the losses of aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers.

On the eve of the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the word “genocide” alone continues to frustrate international relations. Amid recent dramatic developments such as the Armenia-Turkey protocols and a House committee approval of the latest iteration of an Armenian Genocide resolution, area residents saw demonstrations, resentment and hunger strikes.

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“Today, I have a feeling that we came out of that dramatic period reinvigorated, united, stronger, more full of optimism,” said Grigor Hovannissian, consul general of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles. “International recognition and condemnation of genocide, one of the most atrocious crimes in the history of mankind, is a top priority for our country. And international engagement .?.?. cannot and will not happen at the cost of [these.]”

The systematic slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks began April 24, 1915, and stretched to 1923.

Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian pointed to genocide discussions in Istanbul, Turkey, and the increasing awareness among youth as evidence of hope.

“We are going to continue our efforts until we see that justice is done,” he said.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said that when his colleagues ask him, “Why resurrect the past and risk alienating an ally?” he points to two imperatives: moral and practical.

“I think it is imperative for the greatest nation on Earth to be the witness of those people who died in the desert,” Schiff said. “I think it is imperative if we want to exercise a position of moral leadership that we answer those voices from the desert who ask, ‘Who will be witness for us?’ by saying, resoundingly, ‘We will.’”

He also questioned how the United States could lead on issues such as Darfur if leaders are unwilling to speak out categorically against all genocide wherever, whenever it occurs, whether it offends an ally or not.

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