Thousands Rally In Three Cities To Commemorate Armenian Massacre
Undated (AP) _ Thousands of Armenian-Americans rallied in three U.S. cities to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of a massacre in which Armenians claim more than 1.5 million of their countrymen were killed by the Ottoman Empire.
In Los Angeles, at least 13 protesters were arrested Sunday after they smashed windows and burned a symbolic Turkish flag during a protest at the Turkish Consulate, police said.
Most of the demonstrators had been part of a crowd of 10,000 who gathered earlier Sunday at Los Angeles City College.
″We can’t change the tragedy that occurred 73 years ago under the Ottoman Empire, but we can and we must change the way the world thinks about that genocide,″ California Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy told the crowd.
Vasken Khodanian, spokesman for the Armenian Human Rights Council, said Armenians want the Turkish government to recognize the killings and compensate the survivors.
Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., told the crowd he has asked President Reagan to discuss the plight of Armenians during the summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Armenia is a republic of the Soviet Union.
″Let us hear no more of glasnost if ... Gorbachev will not guarantee Armenian rights. Let us not think that 1915 cannot happen again,″ he said.
The Los Angeles Armenian community of 200,000, the largest outside the Soviet Union, annually commemorates the massacre.
In New York, more than 2,000 people gathered in Times Square.
″We are here to try to get Congress to pass a resolution to declare April 24 as a Day of Remembrance and to get the U.S. State Department to drop the word ‘alleged’ when referring to the Armenian genocide,″ said Sam Azadian, a rally organizer.
Mayor Edward I. Koch told the crowd: ″The truth is that there was an attempt by the Ottoman Turks to destroy the Armenians and thank God they were not successful - but the truth is they tried. If we do not remember what happened to the Armenians we will not remember what happened to the Jews.″
Many survivors of the massacre were among the Times Square crowd, including 80-year-old M. Manuelian.
″When I was a little boy I remember the Turks coming and taking everything from us,″ Manuelian said. ″They took my father away and I never saw him again.″
Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Mass., told nearly 1,000 demonstrators in Watertown, Mass., that people everywhere had a moral responsibility to call attention to the tragedy.
″Oppression and injustice to one people is a moral loss affecting all mankind,″ Kennedy said.
Leaders of the march in the Boston suburb said the protesters also were expressing their solidarity with the people of the Soviet region of Nargorno- Karabakh, which Armenians want attached to their republic.
Foreign powers have ruled Armenia for most of its history. On April 24, 1915, more than 200 Armenian intellectuals and political leaders were slain or deported by the crumbling Turkish Ottoman Empire, signaling the start of more than eight years of killings.
Turkish officials have said that 300,000 Armenians perished in the turmoil of deportations and local reprisals. Some historians estimated 600,000 died.