ANC-SF: Bay Area Armenians Commemorate Genocide

Armenian National Committee
San Francisco – Bay Area
51 Commonwealth Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
Tel: (415) 387-3433
Fax: (415) 751-0617
[email protected]

Contact: Roxanne Makasdjian (415) 641-0525

Bay Area Armenians Commemorate Genocide

– Kossakian calls on community to prepare for the next phase of Hai Tad
– City of Oakland Recognizes Armenian Genocide for First Time

San Francisco – The Armenian-American community commemorated the
Armenian Genocide with various activities over several weeks, including
public resolutions, screenings, a youth program and student events,
religious ceremonies and a program of speakers and cultural presentations.

Bay Area Cities Recognize the Armenian Genocide
The San Francisco and Santa Clara counties and the cities of Berkeley
and Oakland honored the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide
by declaring April 24th a day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide.
This was the first year Oakland recognized the Armenian Genocide.
Over the previous two months, ANC members in Oakland brought the issue
of the Armenian Genocide to the attention of Oakland City Council
members, who unanimously voted for the resolution, which was passed and
discussed during a public City Council meeting. At the urging of the
Bay Area ANC, the San Francisco and Santa Clara county Boards of
Supervisors sent letters to President Bush calling for the appropriate
recognition of the Genocide by the administration.

Community Evening of Commemoration
On the evening of April 24th, Armenian-Americans gathered to hear
speakers Jean Kossakian, principal of Ferrahian Armenian High School,
and Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Armenian Studies lecturer, Fresno State
University, in addition to Armenian songs and recitation.

Speaking in Armenian, Kossakian spoke of the importance of continuing to
remember the Armenian Genocide, saying that if the Armenian people can
continue to celebrate Vartanants after 1500 years, we can surely
continue the struggle for recognition of the Genocide until justice

Kossakian described the evolution of the Hai Tad struggle, beginning
with the early decades of lamentation, to the cries of `Our lands, our
lands!’ to the acts of political assassination, to nations beginning to
officially recognize the Genocide, to the struggle for an independent
Armenia and Karabagh.

`The entire Diaspora stood together for the independence of Armenia and
Karabagh,’ Kossakian said, adding that Armenia, Karabagh and Javakhk
constitute the basis of a free and independent Armenia. `Genocide
recognition has become a part of the Armenian foreign policy, and we are
now moving into a new era, moving from recognition towards reparations.’

Emphasizing the fact that the Armenian Genocide is unique because it not
only took lives, but lands and property, Kossakian said the Genocide
continues with Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s genocide denial, their claims
that Armenians are the newcomers to the region, their continued
blockades of Armenia, their construction of a pipeline which bypasses
Armenia, and their ever-growing populations compared to Armenia’s
diminishing population.

Kossakian said our people must prepare for the day when Armenia will
bring the Armenian Case to the International Court of Justice, by
continuing to persuade cities, states and nations to recognize the
Genocide, persuade governments and schools to include the history in
their educational systems, and by developing new approaches to the
Armenian Cause. `Within the next few years we have to prove that the
Diaspora is represented by Armenia, ask for reparations, and put Turkey
on the defensive.’

Barlow Der Mugrdechian, speaking in English, also called on Armenians to
participate in Armenian life. `While some call for unity,’ he said, `I
would call for unity of spirit.’

Der Mugrdechian urged Armenians to see Armenia and Mt. Ararat, not as a
tourist experience, but as an educational experience, learning from the
people there and contributing in some way. He reminded community
members that the Armenian Case is still unresolved and people should
participate in the Cause.

`Germany and the Secret Genocide’
The Bay Area Armenian National Committee invited the public to a
screening of `Germany and the Secret Genocide,’ and a discussion with
filmmaker Michael J. Hagopian. The film, which reveals Germany’s
involvement in the Armenian Genocide screened on April 14th at the San
Francisco Public Library with a diverse crowd in attendance.

Armenian Students’ Associations of UCB, UCD and Stanford
Armenian-American students at three Bay Area universities organized a
variety of events: at UCB, students organized lectures, a film
screening, and `Hands Across Campus’ bringing together many student
groups linking hands across campus to take a stand against Armenian
Genocide denial and human rights abuses everywhere. At UC Davis,
students held a public evening vigil where students and other campus
speakers addressed the crowd. At Stanford, the Stanford Daily newspaper
published an opinion piece about the need for recognition of the
Armenian Genocide.

Youth Program and `Hokehankeest’ at Mt. Davidson Cross
Representatives of the ACYO (Armenian Christian Youth Organization), KZV
Armenian School and the HMEM Armenian Scouts conducted a solemn
proceeding at the 103-ft Mt. Davidson Cross. Mt. Davidson Cross is the
largest cross in the country and stands atop the highest peak in San
Francisco overlooking the city. The Armenian-American community of the
Bay Area owns the Cross, after having won it at a city auction approved
by city voters in 1997. They have been able to maintain ownership and a
memorial plaque at the foot of the cross despite several lawsuits by
atheists which reached the Supreme Court and a recent lawsuit by the
Turkish consul.


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS