Michigan community commemorates the Armenian Genocide

DETROIT, Mich.—The Armenian community of Michigan recently came together to commemorate the 109th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide through a series of impactful events.

On April 17, 2024, the Armenian Community of Greater Detroit (ACC), in collaboration with the Livonia Public Library, organized a lecture titled “Armenian Genocide: Then and Now.” Guest speaker Ani Boghigian Kasparian delivered an insightful overview of the Armenian Genocide, spanning from 1894 to the present day. Emphasizing the ongoing genocide perpetrated by Turkey and Azerbaijan, Kasparian’s presentation captivated a diverse audience of Armenian and non-Armenian residents. Following her enlightening talk, Kasparian engaged attendees in a stimulating question and answer session, fostering further dialogue and reflection.

Ani Boghigian Kasparian presenting “Armenian Genocide: Then and Now”

Continuing the commemoration, the Armenian Genocide Committee of Greater Detroit, comprising 11 Armenian community organizations, gathered on April 20 at the Fordson High School auditorium. The event commenced with a flag ceremony and renditions of the United States, Armenia and Artsakh national anthems, conducted by the Homenetmen of Detroit. Christine Santourian, representing the Tekeyan Cultural Organization, emceed the proceedings, calling for remembrance of the past to prevent future atrocities.

Alex Kurkechian from the Armenian Youth Federation-Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation conveyed a powerful message of youth empowerment, vowing to continue the fight for a free, united and independent Armenia. He stressed the pivotal role of the youth as a beacon of light that shines and gives hope and strength to fight for justice. 

Committee chair Raffi Ourlian offered remarks acknowledging the tragic history of the Armenian people while highlighting their resilience and achievements. Ourlian recognized the critical period that Armenia faces but also highlighted the successes Armenians have achieved with their determination and perseverance, such as Operation Nemesis and the first Artsakh War. “Each of you here in this room is a success for our nation; each of you has a unique story of survival, a story of how your family made it past the Genocide and survived,” he concluded. 

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan’s 12th district presented a congressional proclamation marking the 109th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Congress. Rep. Tlaib reaffirmed her commitment to advocating for the Armenian people, stating, “I will never be shy about speaking truth to power when it comes to what happened to the Armenian people and what continues to happen to the Armenian people. I’m tired of us literally sitting back as a country and allowing refugees to be created and people to be uprooted from their land, denied access to their culture and denied access to their history.”

The first guest speaker of the night, Harut Sassounian, publisher of The California Courier, presented a detailed historical account of the Armenian Genocide and the importance of pursuing reparations from the government of Turkey. He called for shifting focus from recognition to reparations and legal demands from the government of Turkey. “The fact is that commemorative resolutions adopted by various countries and statements made on the Armenian Genocide by world leaders have no force of law and therefore no legal consequence,” he said.

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ANCA National Committee board member Dzovinar Hatsakordzian welcomed Gev Iskajyan, director of the Armenian National Committee of Artsakh and ANCA Grassroots Director, who stressed the importance of generational work in preserving Armenian identity and advocating for justice, “because to exist to have an identity is a struggle, it is work, and it is work that has been carried out by this community and many communities in the United States.” 

Iskajyan called for continued advocacy for Artsakh, the way that Artsakh Armenians have fought for the rest of the Armenian nation for decades. “It’s important to remember,” Iskajyan said, “but that’s not our goal. Our interest does not lie in candlelight vigils; our interest lies in justice. We are working towards freedom and liberation for the Armenian people. Today, the ANCA, more than ever, is dedicated to this cause.”

The event included beautiful performances of “Desnem Anin” and “Artsakh” by Hamazkayin of Detroit’s dance group. The Homenetmen scouts joined by proudly carrying the flags of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh, symbolizing unity and resilience.

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On April 23, Andre Mirijanian, an ANC of Michigan activist and freshman at Central Michigan University, organized a lecture titled “Hidden Blood: Learn About Armenian Genocide,” shedding light on the historical atrocities and ongoing genocide of the Armenians. 

On the occasion of the 109th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian National Committee of Michigan received proclamations from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and several cities, including Southfield, Livonia and West Bloomfield, in recognition of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Finally, the Armenian National Committee of Michigan curated displays throughout the month of May at the Livonia Library showcasing books and posters about the Armenian Genocide, continuing their efforts to raise awareness and honor the memory of the victims.

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The events served as a testament to the resilience and unity of the Armenian community in Michigan, ensuring that the memory of the Armenian Genocide lives on and inspires action towards justice for Armenia and Artsakh.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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