BEVERLY HILLS, CA – On Sunday, April 24th, the Armenian Youth Federation Western United States (AYF-WUS) organized its annual Armenian Genocide protest in front of the Turkish Consulate in Beverly Hills. This year marks the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and the rally was organized to honor the 1.5 million Armenians who were systematically slaughtered by the Ottoman Empire in 1915, as well as to raise awareness of the current blockade in the Armenian enclave of Artsakh, a humanitarian
crisis imposed by Azerbaijan.
Over 1,500 people attended the rally, including community members, students, and politicians. The event was a powerful exhibit that the Armenian community will not forget the atrocities committed against their ancestors, as well as a reminder that the Republic of Turkey not only continues to deny the Genocide but also actively supports and funds Azerbaijan in its efforts to genocide Armenians from their ancestral homeland in the modern day.
The AYF-WUS raised over $1,500 in donations, which will help fund youth activities in Artsakh sponsored by the Youth of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in Artsakh. A portion of the funds collected was raised through a live art auction of a piece created by AYF-WUS member Preny Alaverdian, who made a painting of the “We Are Our Mountains” sculpture — art that has become synonymous with the Republic of Artsakh — that features an elderly couple, a representation of the mountain people of Artsakh’s Armenian heritage.
The rally featured several speakers, including Melody Seraydarian, who spoke on behalf of the Armenian Youth Federation Western United States. Her speech not only paid respect to the victims of the Genocide, but served as a call for attention toward the blockade in Artsakh, which has stopped the flow of basic necessities, like food, water, medicine, and fuel, to its primarily Armenian population.
“For Turkey and Azerbaijan, Artsakh is a pawn in their political game, a strategic piece of land on a map. For [Armenians], Artsakh is who we are,” said Seraydarian. “To see it under attack, at this intense scale, year after year is a pain beyond comprehension. Having the privilege to experience its freedom simply means that we will do anything to safeguard it.”
Other speakers included Vana Bashian, who served as Master of Ceremonies, Sarig Armenian on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America, Levon Baronian on behalf of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western United States Central Committee, as well as elected officials including Burbank Unified School District Board Member Dr. Armond Aghakhian, Los Angeles City Councilman Curren D. Price Jr., and Glendale City Councilman and Former Glendale Mayor Ardy Kassakhian.
The speakers shared powerful messages of solidarity and called for justice on behalf of the victims of the Armenian Genocide and present-day Artsakh. The underlying message throughout all the speeches emphasized the importance of continuing to raise awareness about this tragedy and the current struggles of the Armenian people.
The AYF-WUS would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to all the attendees, event volunteers, and speakers who made this rally possible. They would also like to extend their gratitude to the Beverly Hills Police Department which ensured the safety of all those present.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization. With chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the AYF actively strives to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of all Armenian-American youth.
For more information, please visit their website at www.ayfwest.org.