Students react to upcoming centennial of Armenian genocide


Sareen Shatikian

Members of the AYF drop on the floor in the rain during their "die-in"

By Sareen Shatikian

Every year, many Armenian students at Clark participate in events commemorating the Armenian genocide, and the continuous denial of the event. This year, marking the centennial of when the massacres began, some students have become a lot more active in gaining attention.

Usually there is a march in front of the Turkish Embassy on Wilshire Blvd. that gets media attention, but this year students have gone to extremes in order to let their voices and their cause be heard.

The Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and the Unified Young Armenians (UYA) have combined efforts in order to organize this year’s march. They are in charge of planning logistics of the march such as routing, permitting, coordination with the city police, and supplies like water bottles and posters.

Senior Raffi Jivalagian is part of the special committee in charge of organizing and delegating these tasks. “Thanks to the use of social media, we have been able to spread awareness in many creative ways,” Jivalagian said. “Having many Armenians [and] non-Armenians at the protests is important, so a lot of time has been spent passing out flyers to local businesses and urging stores to close on April 24.”

Many businesses in the Glendale area… will be closing their businesses in order to raise awareness about the genocide.”

According to Jivalagian, many businesses in the Glendale area have kept the flyers that were handed to them by different members of the AYF and UYA and will be closing their businesses in order to raise awareness about the Armenian genocide.

The AYF has also organized a “100 Days of Action” event, which commemorates the 100 days leading up to April 24 with an event of some sort. These include lectures and passing out flyers to raise awareness.

One of the most interesting events was a “die in,” where people wearing Armenian genocide T-shirts stood in front of the Staples Center in Los Angeles while there was a basketball game inside. When the game ended and people started to come out, they all fell to ground and pretended to die. Police tried to get the members of the die in out of the street, but they still got the attention of a lot of people.

In addition to the efforts of the AYF and UYA, students working with the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) have been hard at work as well. The organization will be taking about 300 people to Sacramento to advocate for the recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Senior Vana Asdourian, an intern with the ANCA, is part of the task force that is organizing this annual event. “Last year we were able to get a resolution that says all schools in California have to teach a unit about the Armenian genocide in history classes,” Asdourian said. “Although California has already passed the Armenian genocide resolution as a state, we still go and try to raise as much awareness as possible.”

It is important that we honor the ancestors of our students who were victims of [genocide].”

— Librarian Susan Newcomer

Students aren’t just raising awareness in outside organizations, but in school too. Clark librarian Susan Newcomer has asked sophomore John Bandek to retrieve pieces of art and writing from students in school in order to create a display in honor of the genocide.

“I’ve talked to some of the students of the art class to donate pieces that they have created in honor of the genocide, as well as some writing from the creative writing class,” Bandek said. “Since this year is the centennial of the Armenian genocide, it is important that we honor the ancestors of our students who were victims of this event.”

The entire school district will be closed on this day as well, so that those who wish to can go to the march and protest against the Turkish embassy. “We have estimated that about 65,000 to 100,000 people will be coming to the protest this year,” Jivalagian said. “Considering the magnitude of this year’s protest, it is sure to turn heads of people and countries all over the world. And once people notice this, they begin to ask questions about why thousands of Armenians are marching through the streets of Hollywood.”