CHICAGO, Ill.—Armenians from across Chicago converged near the consulate of the Republic of Turkey on April 24, 2019 to join with the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Chicago “Ararat” Chapter in a protest marking the 104th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
“We are here today to demand that the Turkish government return all occupied Armenian lands and make just reparations for the Armenian Genocide,” said Chicago AYF executive member Tavit Hardy, addressing a crowd of onlookers through a bullhorn. “Turkey must immediately cease and desist its campaign of denial of the Armenian Genocide.”
The protest was held on North Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s renowned Magnificent Mile, with demonstrators holding signs, banners and American and Armenian flags, chanting “We demand our lands” and “Turkey is guilty of genocide.”
The AYF was joined by members of the local Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), Armenian National Committee (ANC), Armenian Relief Society (ARS), Hamazkayin and Homenetmen, accompanied by parishioners of Chicago’s five Armenian churches and clergy. Representatives of the Pontian Greek and Palestinian communities also participated in the protest, along with other non-Armenians who decided to join in with the protesters after learning about purpose of demonstration.
Across the street, about a dozen people were seen waving Turkish and Azerbaijani flags in a counter protest attempt. Chicago police, including horse-mounted units, were on-site to keep the groups separated and to avoid any disturbances.
The AYF demonstration, which lasted for over two hours, garnered the attention of thousands of passersby along the busy thoroughfare, with protesters distributing informational flyers about the Armenian Genocide. The flyer also urged readers to take action by going to anca.org to urge American government officials to end US complicity in Turkey’s Armenian Genocide denial.
At the conclusion of the protest, the demonstrators joined together in a closing prayer led by Archpriest Ghevont Pentezian of Armenian All Saints Church, followed by the singing of the AYF’s anthem, Haratch Nahadag.
“Once again we delivered our message to the Turkish government that the Armenian people will not rest until justice is served and our lands are returned,” said Hardy.
The protest marked the first of several events in Chicago honoring the 104th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. In the coming weeks, there will be a special joint church service, a commemorative program organized by the ANC of Illinois and a blood drive conducted by the ARS “Zabelle” Chapter.