By Susie Haddadian Contributor
Grief, pride, joy and determination – these and many more emotions flooded the streets of Los Angeles last week as thousands of Armenians rallied to commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24.
Organized by the Armenian Genocide Committee, the March For Justice took place in an effort to fight against the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian genocide and demand U.S. recognition of the horrific events of 1915.
As peaceful protesters marched from Pan Pacific Park to the Consulate General of Turkey , catchy chants roared throughout the crowd.
One minute they shouted, “Baykar baykar meenchev verch! Genocide never again,” and the next minute they cried, “Shame on Turkey!”
Whether young, old, immigrant, or U.S.- native, this event amplified their voices and united them as one people. Young Armenians are often told stories about the barbaric treatment, torture and murder of their ancestors during the Armenian Genocide.
Two young girls led a group in a chant saying, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
As I marched along, a woman I met shared her grandmother’s story with me, one she grew up hearing constantly so that she would never forget.“Turkish soldiers burst into my grandma’s house and murdered her husband with machine guns,” she said between chants. “Then they took his body, put it in a box and threw it in a fire and made my grandma watch him burn. This happened to my family and cannot be dismissed.”
Whether born in Armenia, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, U.S., or any other region of the diaspora caused by the genocide, many Armenians have formed a deep love and connection with the country and culture that parents have instilled in their hearts from an early age. This bond continues to grow stronger today as the younger generation persists in the fight for justice.
The event not only joined the Armenian people and subcultures within the community, but it also brought people from different parts of the world together.
Flags of Armenia, America, Assyria and Venezuela waved through the air as non-Armenians marched side by side with their brothers and sisters.
The march not only created awareness and educated the non-Armenian community, but also demonstrated unity between nations whose ancestors endured similar genocides and massacres.
Talar Arslanian, a 20-year-old college student, expressed her passion for the march.
“I hope more and more people continue to come [to] this march every year! People need to know what happened and how it affects people from around the world.”
Even though the Armenian Genocide happened over a century ago, the Armenian community is still adamant about making sure their voices will echo loudly and their stories will never be forgotten.