300 Residents Attend 97th Armenian Genocide Commemoration at Pasadena City Hall
By Terry Miller
Between 1915 and 1923, Armenians were subjected to torture, starvation, mass murder and exile from their historic homeland. 1.5 million lost their lives. The Armenian Genocide, also known as the “First Genocide of the Twentieth Century,” represented a deliberate attempt by the Ottoman Empire to eliminate all traces of a thriving noble civilization.
On Tuesdaymorning at 10 am a somber ceremony was held in remembrance of the Genocide.
Master of ceremonies was Roy Boulghourjian. Pasadena Mayor Bogaard presented a proclamation and several other dignitaries presented the Armenian community at large special certificates recognizing the tragedy of April 24, 1915.
: Lara Chahinian and her best friend Elizabeth Keshishyan went to each and evey person in the audience to offer them the black ribbons in honor of those lives lost. While it might be difficult for these 8 year olds to fathom the depth of the atrocities of 1915, the moment was ceryainly not lost on their parents and others at the well-attended ceremony.
The Armenian Genocide was carried out by the “Young Turk” government of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916. One and a half million Armenians were killed, out of a total of two and a half million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire..
Armenians all over the world commemorate this great tragedy each April 24, because it was on that day in 1915 when 300 Armenian leaders, writers, thinkers and professionals in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) were rounded up, deported and killed. Also on that day in Constantinople, 5,000 of the poorest Armenians were butchered in the streets and in their homes.
The Armenian Genocide was masterminded by the Central Committee of the Young Turk Party (Committee for Union and Progress [Ittihad ve Terakki Cemiyet, in Turkish]) which was dominated by Mehmed Talât [Pasha], Ismail Enver [Pasha], and Ahmed Djemal [Pasha]. They were a racist group whose ideology was articulated by Zia Gökalp, Dr. Mehmed Nazim, and Dr. Behaeddin Shakir.
The Armenian Genocide was directed by a Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa) set up by the Committee of Union and Progress, which created special “butcher battalions,” made up of violent criminals released from prison.
Some righteous Ottoman officials such as Celal, governor of Aleppo; Mazhar, governor of Ankara; and Reshid, governor of Kastamonu, were dismissed for not complying with the extermination campaign. Any common Turks who protected Armenians were killed.
Finally, the remaining Armenians were called from their homes, told they would be relocated, and then marched off to concentration camps in the desert between Jerablus and Deir ez-Zor where they would starve and thirst to death in the burning sun.
On the march, often they would be denied food and water, and many were brutalized and killed by their “guards” or by “marauders.” The authorities in Trebizond, on the Black Sea coast, did vary this routine: they loaded Armenians on barges and sank them out at sea.
The Turkish government today denies that there was an Armenian genocide and claims that Armenians were only removed from the eastern “war zone.”
Governor Brown along with countless dignitaries from around the globe honored Armenian communities all over the world and commemorated this tragedy on April 24.” On this day, we honor the victims and survivors of the genocide, and reaffirm our commitment to preventing future atrocities from being committed against any people.” Governor Brown said.
Tuesday event in Pasadena drew approximately 300 people and was sponsored by the Armenian Community Coalition.