Monday, April 27, 2009

Armenians march to raise awareness about Genocide, while USC students educate their campus.

On Friday, April 24th, thousands of Armenians from Southern California came together in front of the Turkish Consulate on Wilshire Blvd. in protest against the Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide.

This year marks the 94th anniversary of the first genocide of the 2oth century where the Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians.

Armenians around the world commemorate those who were lost on April 24, the day the Ottoman Turks systematically killed Armenian leaders who were seen as a threat.

USC students from various Armenian organizations came together to raise awareness about the genocide.

Beginning the week with a lecture by celebrated attorney Mark Geragos, students enrolled in an Armenian studies colloquium course engaged in discussion about the legal actions taken by the families of victims.

In the evening, filmmaker and genocide survivor J. Michael Hagopian presented his work, “The River Ran Red”, a documentary of 400 testimonies of Armenian genocide survivors.

“Trojans Against Genocide” was a weeklong effort that was brought together by the Armenian Students’ Association, the Armenian Graduate Students’ Association, the International Students’ Assembly, and the Armenian fraternity and sorority Alpha Epsilon Omega and Alpha Gamma Alpha.

In the week prior to “Trojans Against Genocide”, Fight On for Darfur, an event that raises money and awareness for the ongoing genocide in Africa, pitched several tents in a campus courtyard—each one dedicated to a genocide that occurred in the 20th Century.

Inside the tent that represented the Armenian genocide were several fact sheets and photos, all of which exposed students to the history and illustrated visually that ignoring the first genocide subsequently lead to many more including Darfur.

Many students participated Tuesday in “Starving to Stop Genocide”, a daylong fast to acknowledge all genocides to date.

The International Students’ Assembly hosted a food fair Wednesday that featured food from several countries. The Armenian food served to students was an exposure to the culture and demonstrated the rebirth of its people after genocide.

Educating USC about the events of April 24, 1915, the Armenian Graduate Students’ Association dispersed 1,500 white carnations—each one representing 1,000 deaths— on

McCarthy Quad, one of the busiest sites on campus.

In addition to the flowers and the fact sheets, Alpha Epsilon Omega erected an 8-foot tall sign that had pictures and information about the genocide within large numbers “1915”.

In the peak of the afternoon a group of four Armenian students marched peacefully through campus wearing all black and red bandanas over their eyes. The organizer of the march, undergraduate Mhair Zeitounian, held up a sign that read “Instead of walking to class, Imagine walking to your death. Recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

The following day, the image of the students marching was on the front page of the Daily Trojan.

On April 24th students, parents and community members came together in the center of campus around Tommy Trojan and listened to the Element band perform music and USC’s ASA chaplain Father Vazken Movsesian speak.

Many non-Armenian students participated by watching and buying memorabilia such as t-shirts sold by Alpha Epsilon Omega that have the word “genocide” written in the languages of country’s that have fallen victim to the crime. Proceeds went to educational programs that teach genocide.

The Los Angeles Times quoted USC senior Artak Arakelian as he sold shirts and pins in front of the Turkish consulate that day. As a response to President Obama not using the word “genocide” he said, “It just makes us work harder to make sure he fulfills his promise the next time."

Alpha Gamma Alpha held a daylong blood drive where several dozen students gave their blood to the USC/ Norris Cancer Hospitals. The message of the sorority was to give blood to honor those who gave their blood unwillingly in the Armenian genocide.

In the evening, the Glendale congregations of St. Peter Armenian Church and St. Mark Episcopal Church held its 4th annual Armenian genocide commemorative service that featured clergy and choirs from both congregations. The service led by Father Vazken, donated its offerings to providing food for the refugees of the Darfur Genocide.

Photo taken from