Genocide victims will be honored At the Greek Theatre

Los Angeles Daily News, CA
April 24 2004

Genocide victims will be honored
Greek Theatre concert set

By Alex Dobuzinskis
Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES — For the rock band System of a Down, tonight’s sold-out
benefit at the Greek Theatre will be a different kind of concert —
one dedicated to raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide.

The band’s members, all of Armenian descent, are performing on the
day on which Armenians commemorate the genocide, which occurred in
the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923. Lead singer Serj Tankian
said the title of the concert “Souls, 2004,” will honor the 1.5
million Armenians who were killed in the massacre.

“The reason I’m here is because of the survivors that have survived
the Armenian Genocide,” Tankian said.

The singer’s grandfather saw his own brother killed, and he and his
mother were the only members of his family to survived the genocide.

Armenians during the period suffered deportation, torture, starvation
and numerous massacres, according to the Armenian National Institute.

It set the stage for other atrocities that followed, Tankian said.

“Look at the 20th century. It’s the century where the most number of
people have been killed by (other) people. And we call ourselves a

Turkish officials have denied that the deaths of Armenians in the
former Ottoman Empire during World War I and the following years was
a genocide, saying the deaths occurred during a multiparty conflict
and were due to war and disease. But Armenian groups have asked the
Turkish government to recognize the deaths as a genocide.

Tonight’s concert will benefit the Armenian National Committee of
America and other groups, including organizations that teach about
the genocide, such as Facing History and Ourselves.

Tankian, 36, and two of his fellow members of the band grew up in the
San Fernando Valley, and the fourth member is from Glendale. All four
now live in the Los Angeles area.

Those attending tonight’s concert, which sold out in less than 20
minutes on March 12, will find booths with materials about the
Armenian Genocide, and will get an informational CD booklet-size

“We don’t want to be preachy. We have an eight-minute documentary
explaining the genocide and its cover-up by Turkey, and geopolitical
realities in the West,” Tankian said.

Tankian expressed support for a Canadian House of Commons vote on
Wednesday night to declare the deaths of the 1.5 million Armenians an
act of genocide. The vote could affect trade relations between Canada
and Turkey.

Armenian groups are urging the U.S. government to take a similar

“Unless we want to continue being a hypocritical democracy, it’s
going to have to be. The ball is rolling and people are starting to
become aware of it,” Tankian said.

In support of two resolutions that mention the Armenian Genocide,
along with the Holocaust and genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, System
of a Down has mobilized tens of thousands of fans and supporters to
send postcards and e-mails to congressional leaders urging passage of
the resolutions in the House and Senate.

The resolutions state that the U.S. government and its people should
rededicate themselves to the cause of ending the crime of genocide.

But Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, one of the co-signors of House
Resolution 193, said although it would win approval if put before the
full House, the House majority leadership is blocking the vote.

Armenians observe April 24 as the day to commemorate the genocide
because it was on that day in 1915 that hundreds of Armenian leaders
were arrested in Constantinople in one of the first acts of the

State Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, has authored a resolution which
designates this day as the “California Day of Remembrance for the
Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923.”

“It’s one of the great tragic events of the 20th century, and it’s
the first genocide of the 20th century,” Scott said.

Alex Dobuzinskis, (818) 546-3304 [email protected]