LOS ANGELES, California — Friday will mark the centennial of the start of the Armenian genocide, in which nearly 1.5 million Armenians were massacred at the hands of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. A host of businesses will be closing in the area in observance of the anniversary. A march through Los Angeles has also been planned.
The Armenian Genocide “March for Justice” will take place in Glendale on April 24 in the area known as “Little Armenia.” The “once in a lifetime and unprecedented experience” will kick off at 10:00 a.m. at Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue, and end at the Turkish Consulate, located at 6300 Wilshire Boulevard. A map of the route can be found here.
There are over 200,000 Armenians living in Los Angeles, making it the most densely-populated community in America’s nearly 1.4 million Armenian population.
Official recognition of the systematic executions has been a source of tremendous contention, with the United States refusing to officially label it as a genocide due to America’s “alliance” with Turkey. Despite then-Senator Barack Obama promising during his 2008 presidential campaign that he would label the massacre as a genocide as president, he broke his promise once again by revealing that he will avoid using the word “genocide” at a ceremony set to take place this Friday.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has been the most vocal politician on this issue, and was “deeply disappointed” by Obama’s decision.
“How long must the victims and their families wait before our nation has the courage to confront Turkey with the truth about the murderous past of the Ottoman Empire? If not this president, who spoke so eloquently and passionately about recognition in the past, whom? If not after 100 years, when?” he said in a statement.
Pope Francis recently referred to the massacre as “the first genocide of the 20th century,” detailing that “the remaining two [genocides] were perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism.” His words provoked anger from Turkey, which recalled its ambassador to the Holy See and summoned the Vatican’s ambassador in Ankara to condemn the Pope’s remarks. Francis was revered by the Armenian community for his message, however.
A Turkish “scholar”, with a history of denying the genocide, recently said that the 1915-1917 massacre had nothing to do with the Turkish forces and that the Armenians had gone through extensive lengths to disguise themselves as Turks in order to murder their own people.
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