LOS ANGELES, Calif.–On March 1, Armenian activists staged a “die-in” demonstration in Los Angeles to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide. The protest action was held in front of the Staples Center, where Los Angeles Lakers fans had gathered for a game.
Sixty activists, members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Western Region, took part in the protest, as part of the AYF’s “100 Days of Action” campaign leading up to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. The demonstration was held on a day designated as “Zero Discrimination Day” by the United Nations, which aims to draw attention to acts of prejudice and intolerance still affecting people worldwide.
“The foundations of the Armenian Genocide were set on the ideas of racism and discrimination, but it has yet to be recognized by its perpetrators,” said Verginie Touloumian, a member of the AYF-Western Region Central Executive body. “The AYF calls on the global community to shed light on all crimes against humanity that have derived from an endless cycle of discrimination.”
Despite the rain, demonstrators collapsed to the ground in the sudden-death act, as thousands of people exited the Staples Center following a Los Angeles Lakers game. The activists wore T-shirts that bore the hashtag #ArmenianGenocide. Several passersby joined the demonstrators on the ground.
“We’re here today to show the resilience of the Armenian youth, 100 years after the Ottoman Empire tried to wipe out our entire race,” said Raffi Senekeremian, a member of the AYF Western Region’s Central Executive body. “The Armenian Genocide, being the first genocide of the 20th century, is not as widely known as it should be, so we’re here trying to raise awareness on the issue in an active part of our city.”
Following the silent demonstration, the activists proceeded to march through the streets, chanting slogans. They also passed out multilingual pamphlets about the genocide.
The AYF’s “100 Days of Action” campaign, which began on Jan. 14, includes daily actions such as social media campaigns, boycotts, divestment campaigns, political lobbying, tactical demonstrations, cultural displays, and educational forums. The campaign will culminate on April 24, with the “March for Justice” from Little Armenia to the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles.
Information about the “100 Days of Action” is available on www.ayfwest.org and across social media outlets (@ayfwest). Those who wish to participate can contact the AYF by calling (818) 507-1933 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the world, working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian youth.