NY: Armenians to mark genocide

The Journal News, NY
April 17 2005

Armenians to mark genocide
By SULAIMAN BEG

Thousands of Armenians from the Northeast will gather in Times Square
on April 24 to mark the 90th anniversary of the massacre of 1.5
million Armenians in the first genocide of the 20th century.

“If you ignore these events and allow them to be forgotten than you
encourage them to be repeated,” said Richard Sarajian of Chestnut
Ridge, a member of the Joint Committee to Commemorate the 90th
Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which organized the event.

“If people acted with respect to the Armenian genocide, there might
not have been a Jewish Holocaust,” he said.

On April 24, 1915, the massacre began when about 200 Armenian
religious, political and intellectual leaders were rounded up and
killed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

Turkey never has accepted responsibility for the genocide or tried to
make reparations, said Sarajian, a New City-based lawyer whose
great-grandfather was one of the 2.5 million Armenians living in the
Ottoman Empire. The man was taken from his home in the middle of the
night and later killed.

Politicians from around the country, Armenian clergy, genocide
survivors, scholars, civil rights leaders and author Dr. Peter
Balakian will address the crowd at various points in the day.

Before the noon rally in Times Square, two church services will be
held at Manhattan’s two Armenian cathedrals. After the rally, an
ecumenical requiem service will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

“We’ll also talk about genocides going on now,” said Sarajian,
chairman of the National Executive Council of the Armenian Apostolic
Church of America, one of the sponsoring organizations. “Like the
situation in Darfur. There is genocide going on and we remain silent.
We can’t remain silent on genocide – in the past or the present.”

Even though it happened nearly a century ago, most Armenians still
bear the psychological scars, said Karekin Kasparian, pastor of St.
Gregory the Enlightener Armenian Church in White Plains. The day of
remembrance, he said, was a chance to heal emotional scars.

“Directly or indirectly, someone from their family was a victim of
the genocide,” he said of the nearly 1,900 people of Armenian descent
living in Rockland and Westchester counties.

Kasparian said that 37 American states have issued proclamations
recognizing the murder of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 and that
recently 142 members of Congress signed a letter to President Bush
asking him to appropriately recognize the tragedy.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, a member of the Congressional Caucus on
Armenian Issues, signed the letter and sent a commemoration letter to
the Armenian National Committee of America and St. Gregory in White
Plains, pledging her support to the Armenian nation.

“Blind hatred and senseless prejudice tear at the very fabric of our
society even today,” Lowey wrote. “The victims of the Armenian
genocide, the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, Rwanda and
Sudan, and acts of vicious terrorism remind us of the human cost of
hate, and implore us to prevent these tragedies from happening again.
…. Building a strong, prosperous Armenia is the best way to honor the
memory of the Genocide victims.”

If you go

What: 90th anniversary of Armenian genocide

Where and when: The April 24 event begins with 9 a.m. church services
at St. Vartan Cathedral (Second Avenue at 34th Street) and St.
Illuminator’s Cathedral (27th Street between Second and Third
avenues). A noon memorial gathering will be held in Times Square
(Broadway at 43rd Street) and a 2:30 p.m. ecumenical requiem service
will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Fifth Avenue at 50th Street).

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