Armenian Justice Walk Begins: Marchers Leave L.A. For Washington, D.

By Connie Llanos, Special To The Daily News

Los Angeles Daily News, CA
June 28 2006

Nearly a century after the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians, the
descendants of those victims are finding new ways to heal old wounds.

Water coolers in hand and painful memories in their hearts, members
of the United Armenian Students kicked off their 3,000-mile Journey
for Humanity on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday. The
group, made up of Armenian college students, is marching 20 miles a
day until it reaches the nation’s capital in the hopes of educating
people about the Armenian genocide, as well as other atrocities
occurring throughout the world today.

"We have carried this pain for 91 years," said Vahe Abovian, project
director for Journey for Humanity.

"We kept hearing `never again, never again,’ but it keeps happening,"
he said.

Abovian, 29, has taken a leave of absence from his job as deacon of
the Western Dioceses of the Armenian Church and has sent his wife and
two daughters to Armenia to reduce his expenses so he can afford his
five-month trip.

He feels compelled to make this sacrifice not only as an Armenian,
but as an ethical human being, he said.

"It is personal to me as an Armenian, but the issue of genocide is too
big to be trademarked as an Armenian or a Jewish issue," Abovian said.

With the death toll in the Darfur region of the Sudan nearing 400,000,
Abovian stressed that recognition of genocides can lead to their
prevention in the future.

"The reasons for doing this are twofold," Abovian said.

"We are trying to keep the memories of all genocide victims alive
and educating our society and we are demanding that no more crimes
against humanity happen," he continued.

Richard Hovannisian, chairman of modern Armenian history at the
University of California, Los Angeles, said for many Armenians it is
the unresolved aspect of the genocide that causes the hurt to remain.

"It is 90 years after the fact, and the Turkish government will not
go on the record," Hovannisian said.

Hovannisian also said that much of the drive behind the genocide
awareness movement stems from a belief that had the world paid
attention to the Armenian genocide, many other genocides could have
been prevented, including the Jewish Holocaust.

He added that youth involvement in the issue is important. "Their
idealistic streak should be encouraged," Hovannisian said.

By Tuesday afternoon Glendale Community College student Albrik
Zohrabayan had marched 11 miles in 90-degree heat.

"I’m tired," Zohrabayan said in a weakened voice. But he isn’t nervous
about his trip, despite the unknown territory and summer heat; he
only hopes people are open to the message he carries.

"We just hope they are going to support us. That’s all we care about."