On Monday, April 23, the Armenian Students Association (ASA) club will commemorate the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians, the victims of an early 20th century genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, with a show celebrating Armenian culture.
The event will take place in the Westerbeck Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and include performances of varying mediums such as singing, dancing, poetry readings and instrumental numbers. The event is open to everyone, and has been held annually by the ASA club for several years.
“We want to show people the culture, more than just mourning the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians, it’s about showing people about us now, and the culture that we have now, and the culture we thrive in as a community,” said club member Nareg Bouldoukian.
However, the club does aim to inform and educate those in attendance about the Armenian Genocide and why it is significant. For decades, the nation of Turkey, formerly the Ottoman Empire, has denied that this atrocity even occurred.
“We’ve been doing this dozens of—almost 100—years, a little over 100 years actually, but still some people don’t know about it. Still some people aren’t giving it the credit it deserves as a cause, as a mission for us,” Bouldoukian explained.
The event will also feature a keynote speaker discussing a topic relevant to the Armenian community. The substance of the speeches has ranged in the past from the work currently undertaken by the Armenian National Committee of America to developments taking place in Armenia.
“For example, three years ago, it was the centennial, 2015, and then 2016, there was a four day war between the Azeris and the Armenians, and people were remembering the martyrs, of course, and then it was around the time of April too so, they kind of commemorated the April 24th and the four day war around the same time,” said club president Daron Assadourian.
The event is intended to educate and illuminate on matters pertaining to Armenian culture, history and concerns but everyone is welcome to attend and all viewpoints are tolerated.
“We want to be all inclusive,” said Assadourian. “Invite everybody to possibly educate them, possibly learn from them, their point of view. Maybe they have thought of something we haven’t thought of before in regards to this topic.”
On Wednesday, April 4, ASA club vice president Brittney Salinas spoke to the PCC Board of Trustees to stress the need to acknowledge the historical validity of the Armenian Genocide and suggest the need for curriculum changes to history courses. She called for changes that would highlight the rich history of Armenia, as well as other nations, regions and peoples that are not adequately described and detailed in existing history curriculum.
“It deserves to be heard because it’s history, like any other history. It’s like American history or Chinese history or Russian history but its Armenian history,” said Bouldoukian. “We were the first Christian nation, we’ve been in our region for over 2000, 3000 years. Maybe even longer.”
Salinas emphasized the current inability of the Turkish government to recognize the Armenian Genocide as the most frustrating obstacle, and the most pressing goal.
“You know, even after the genocide had happened, Turkey pretended it didn’t happen,” said Salinas. “So one of the big things is trying to get everyone to recognize that it did. We will not let them force us out of history.”