ARMENIAN GENOCIDE: INLAND RESIDENTS ATTENDING MONTEBELLO COMMEMORATION
The Press Enterprise
April 22 2015
April 22nd, 2015, 10:53 am
One hundred years ago Friday, Ottaman Turks began what Armenians mark
as the beginning of the 20th Century’s first genocide.
On Saturday, about 10 Inland people of Armenian descent will be in
Montebello at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Memorial Monument for
a ceremony commemorating the murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians
during the waning days of the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire, said the
Rev. Stepanos Dingilian, pastor of the Armenian Apostolic Church of
Riverside. Dingilian is among those attending.
The commemoration is one of several planned over the next few days in
Los Angeles County, home to the nation’s largest Armenian population.
On Friday, a “march for justice” will set off from Little Armenia
inEast Hollywood and end six miles later at the Turkish consulate
on Wilshire Boulevard “to protest the Turkish government’s continued
denial of the Armenian Genocide.”
Dingilian said Turkey’s refusal to recognize the slaughtering of
Armenians as genocide makes it even more important to commemorate
“This is a living situation, a living reality,” Dingilian said.
He said Ottoman Turk soldiers shot his grandparents to death in
1915 and his mother then fled the area in central Turkey where her
ancestors had lived for centuries.
There were two million Armenians living in what is now Turkey before
World War I began. Today there are only 50,000.
“They tried to eradicate the Armenian presence there,” Dingilian said.
Dingilian said the annual commemorations of the genocide are especially
important to Armenian-American youth – such as his 17-year-old and
21-year-old daughters and 13-year-old son – so they never forget
not only the murder of their ancestors but the brave resistance of
“They have great-grandparents who had character, faith, family values,
and a culture, language and way of life that they stood up for,”
Here’s a story I wrote in 2007 in which Dingilian and other Inland
Armenian-Americans talk about the murders of their ancestors during
the genocide and previous massacres.
I wrote that story after one of many congressional efforts over the
past few decades to officially call the murders “genocide” failed
after intense lobbying against the designation by Turkey.
As I wrote here, genocide-studies scholars are virtually united in
terming the murders genocide. To deny the Armenian genocide “is like
Holocaust denial,” Gregory Stanton, vice president of the International
Association of Genocide Scholars, told me.
Yet the fear of alienating Turkey, a key U.S. ally, has prevented U.S.
presidents and many members of Congress from calling the slaughter
President Barack Obama again this year will not use the word “genocide”
to describe the massacres when he commemorates the murders.
He is following in the footsteps of the administration of President
George W. Bush, which in 2007 quashed the congressional move to
officially use the “genocide” designation.
As a senator and presidential candidate in 2008, Obama forcefully
criticized the Bush administration’s actions.
“Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a
point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an
overwhelming body of historical evidence,” Obama said then. “The
facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to
distort the historical facts is an untenable policy.”