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Marchers mark Armenian Genocide anniversary

April 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two large demonstrations were held in Los Angeles Wednesday to mark the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and to call on Turkey to accept responsibility for it.

Protesting an event that happened 98 years ago, thousands of Armenian-Americans took to the streets of Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire. It was on April 24, 1915 in the final days of the Ottoman Empire that the killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians began.

"Absolutely innocent people were driven from their historic lands towards south, and they went through hell," said Varsham Patvakanian, who marched Wednesday.

Genocide survivors, as they call themselves, marched in unison Wednesday to keep the memory of the tragedy alive. Many families brought young children who chanted alongside their parents and grandparents.

Among them was Azatouhie Varvarian, who says she's marched in this parade for the last 33 years, and will continue to do so until Turkey stops denying the Armenian Genocide took place.

"It's time that you recognize what you've done," said Varvarian. "It's horrible, horrible: hatred towards another human because of their race, religion or ethnicity."

Los Angeles City Council Member Paul Krekorian addressed the gathering, calling for not only Turkey but every nation to acknowledge the genocide.

"This continues to have resonance and importance to people because of the continuing denial," said Krekorian.

Wednesday afternoon President Barack Obama released a statement: "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Nations grow stronger by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past, thereby building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future."

But protestors point out the president stopped short of the calling the 1915 killings "genocide," instead referring to it as an "atrocity."

"We know that if they recognize it, they will lose a lot of grounds for Turkey base and all that, of usage of their bases, of the usage of their oils, and all that. I recognize that, but regardless, we need to put wealth and greed aside for humanity, for the world," said Varvarian.

California Governor Jerry Brown issued a proclamation Wednesday declaring April 24 a day of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.

Attempts to contact the Turkish Consulate for comment were not successful.


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