Image description: The Armenian Flag flying. Photo via Google Images.
Content Warning: Genocide, Military Violence, Sexual Violence
This Sunday, April 24, members of the Armenian community here at UCLA and around the world will be commemorating the 107th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The word “genocide” is defined by International law as any state-sanctioned acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. It was first coined by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, and was used not only to describe the murder of Jews in the Holocaust but the Armenian Genocide as well. The Armenian Genocide began in 1915 with the Ottoman government planning to dispose of the Armenian minority living within its boundaries (which were located in modern-day Turkey). On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman government rounded up and executed several hundred intellectuals, leaders, and other important figures within the Armenian community. Immediately following this, Ottoman officials began seizing Armenian property and wealth. Soldiers forcibly removed Armenians from their homes as part of a “relocation” program that sought to annihilate the entirety of the Armenian population. This so-called relocation program, or deportation campaign, became a system of forced marches that were essentially massacres. The Ottoman military brutalized, raped, drowned, and shot Armenian adults and children as they desired. These actions resulted in over 1.5 million deaths. Yet, to this day, Armenians must still fight for justice for our community.
Since 1915, the Turkish government has consistently denied any Ottoman involvement in a genocide, and instead asserts that any casualties during the time period were a result of WWI. The Armenian community has continuously fought for not only the recognition of the genocide, but reparations for the attempted annihilation of our people.
As the largest community of Armenians outside of Armenia, LA’s diasporic community has historically held annual protests to fight for international recognition for the genocide. For the 100th anniversary of the genocide in 2015, over 100,000 people in Los Angeles alone marched for Armenian Genocide recognition and justice. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, events such as these have not been held for the past two years.
This week, the UCLA Armenian Student Association (ASA) will be holding events on campus as part of Armenian Genocide Commemoration week. In addition, the Promise Armenian Institute, along with several other organizations will be holding events.
ASA President, 4th year Arpine Kilinyan, explains that “UCLA ASA’s events this and next week are one of the ways we, the Armenian community at UCLA, hope to share our heritage and culture as well as spread awareness about the Armenian Genocide. Although some argue that the genocide happened over 100 years ago and we should just ‘get over it,’ people don’t realize the intergenerational trauma pressed upon the Armenian community and how these same genocidal thoughts affect the lives of Armenians in Armenia and Artsakh today. Our events highlight Armenian culture such as through music, or spread awareness by passing out roses on Bruinwalk with a note attached honoring the victims of the genocide. We hope many non-Armenians stand as strong allies for our cause and educate themselves about our oppression, hopefully by attending our events or taking a few minutes to ask us about the Genocide.”
There are several events taking place around campus to spread awareness about the Armenian Genocide.
- ASA hosted a movie night featuring the documentary “Women of 1915” by director Bared Maronian
- ASA flyered and handed out roses on Bruinwalk from 1-3pm in commemoration of the 1.5 million victims of the genocide
- The Hammer Museum hosted a free “Treasures of Armenian Music” concert at 7:30pm
- The Promise Armenian Institute will be hosting a virtual event entitled A House in the Homeland: Armenian Pilgrimages to Places of Ancestral Memory
- At 7pm at the Montebello Martyrs Monument, the Montebello ARF will be hosting keynote speaker Dr. Alina Dorian
- On the day of the commemoration of the 107th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, there will be a rally held on 8500 Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills at 3pm, as well as a candlelight vigil held in front of Glendale city hall
During the week following April 24, Royce Hall will be lit up with red, blue, and orange lights, the colors of the Armenian flag, and ASA will be holding a fundraiser throughout the week. ASA will also be holding a candlelight vigil in front of Royce Hall at 7:30pm on Monday, April 25. The UCLA Promise Armenian Institute will be hosting additional virtual events on April 25 and 26.
Please consider standing in solidarity with the Armenian community by attending any of the live or virtual events in the upcoming week. Help us raise awareness of an atrocity that is still unrecognized and unpunished.