UCLA: Blood drive held in memory of 1915 killings

The UCLA Daily Bruin, CA
April 20 2004

Blood drive held in memory of 1915 killings
Armenian group hopes to save lives, unite L.A. community

By Stephanie Hodge
[email protected]

The Armenian Graduate Students Association is hosting a blood drive
today in memory of Armenians killed over the course of two days in

“The project is named ‘Life,’ because … lives were taken and now we
want to save someone else’s life,” said Mike Mkhitar Moradian, the
project director.

Though the U.S. government sympathizes with the tragedy, no president
has officially recognized the massacres as a genocide since President
Woodrow Wilson was in office.

The AGSA is teaming up with the UCLA Medical Center for this event.
All donated blood will go to the UCLA Medical Center to help the
community at large.

“This is especially symbolic. By saving lives here we are remembering
the lives lost,” said Shahe Soghomonian, a fourth-year biology
student who plans on donating blood today.

The AGSA, formed in winter 2002, hopes to make the blood drive an
annual event.

“The blood drive is open to any student, but the core of the donors
are Armenian undergraduate and graduate students,” Moradian said.

Currently, 40 students are expected to donate, and the group
encourages others to stop by to give to the cause.

“This event is important because it not only commemorates the
forgotten genocide, but also helps to unite the UCLA community,” said
Arpi Setrak, financial officer of AGSA.

Armenians all over the world commemorate the massacre on April 24,
the day the killings officially began.

On the evening of April 23 and the day of April 24, 1915, 300
intellectuals and government officials of Armenian descent were
captured and sent to jail by the Ottoman Empire, based around
modern-day Turkey, before they were killed.

Between 600,000 and 1.5 million out of a total population of 2.5
million Armenians were reportedly killed by the Ottoman Empire or
died of starvation as a result of the aggression. The killings and
deportation of Armenians to Syria and Mesopotamia lasted until the
early 1920s.

Currently, more than 30 states in the United States have passed
resolutions recognizing the genocide. California was one of the first
states to pass a resolution. Other countries, such as Canada, Sweden
and France also officially recognize it. But Turkey denies that a
genocide took place and maintains that a much smaller number died in
a civil war.

To commemorate this day, different groups around Southern California
have organized events that many UCLA students plan on attending. The
All Armenian Students Association will hold a candlelight vigil at UC
Riverside on Thursday.

“Every year the vigil rotates to a different campus. Students from
all Southern California campuses will attend,” Moradian said.

The Shant Student Association, named after a writer who died during
the massacre, will hold a “Rally Against Denial” in Glendale.
National radio producer and author David Barsamian will be the key
speaker at the event.

This Saturday, Armenians will march in Hollywood. After the march,
they will organize to protest in front of the Turkish consulate.

That night, rock band System of a Down will hold a concert at the
Greek Theatre in Griffith Park.

“All of the profits from the concert will go to campaigns for
recognition of the genocide,” Moradian said.