Fresno commemorates Armenian genocide

Fresno Bee, CA
April 24 2010

Fresno commemorates Armenian genocide
500 turn out at City Hall for memorial.

Posted at 06:33 PM on Saturday, Apr. 24, 2010
By George Hostetter / The Fresno Bee Buzz up!

An estimated 500 people gathered at Fresno City Hall on Saturday
morning to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

A handful of speakers honored the memory of Armenians murdered in the
genocide, praised the strength of those who survived and promised that
the worldwide Armenian community will never rest until the Turkish
government formally acknowledges its responsibility for the deaths of
1.5 million civilians from 1915-1923.

April 24 is considered the start of the Ottoman Empire’s assault on
Armenian leaders. The Turkish government describes the deaths as a
consequence of wartime.

Fresno City Council Member Andreas Borgeas, who said he married into
an Armenian family, was the master of ceremonies. He told the
audience, "Today we are gathered to pay homage to those that gave the
ultimate sacrifice and celebrate those that were able to survive —
and to those of us that are members of the diaspora, to make certain
that we educate the next generation."

Keynote speaker Raffi Hamparian, an activist with the Armenian
National Committee Western Region, said there are few living
survivors. "I urge you never to forget," Hamparian said.

Democratic Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno said he told a top Turkish
official several years ago that "modern day Turkey ought to recognize
the wrong, right the wrong and move on."

Costa also emphasized that the Armenian genocide is well documented.

The event was hosted by the Armenian National Committee Central
California and the Fresno Armenian American Community.

Hygo Ohannessian, chair of the Armenian National Committee of Central
California, said Saturday’s walk from the Fresno County Hall of
Records to City Hall was a symbolic re-enactment of the genocide’s
death marches.

"We want to make sure that the world does not forget, and that Turkey
cannot deny what they did to our people," Ohannessian said.

Knar Kahkejian, 21, of Fresno said Saturday’s event was solemn but also joyous.

"We’re very proud to be Armenian," Kahkejian said. "We’ve had some bad
times, but we’re still around, and we’ve kept our culture. That’s the
most important thing."

Aram Atikian, 63, of Fresno said the large turnout and heartfelt
response will inspire the local Armenian community.

"It’s a very significant day," Atikian said. "We’ll get together
again. We’ve recharged our batteries to go another year."

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