L.A. Now

Armenian businesses close for genocide memorial

New signs explain why Armenian businesses are closed today: to remember the Armenian genocide

Armenian business owners in Glendale for many years have been closed on April 24 to observe the Armenian genocide, but not too long ago, they also started displaying specially made signs on their storefront windows reminding patrons why their shops won't be open.

Sevak Kouyoumjian moved to the city a year and a half ago from Lebanon and opened Anthony Flowers inside the Exchange just last month.

A florist for three decades in his home country, he said it didn't matter to him that he was still trying to get his business off the ground — he knew he would be closed on Friday.

"Being a flower business, we usually don't close, we are open 364 days a year," Kouyoumjian told Times Community News. "We only close on April 24."

Like many Armenian-owned shops and restaurants in the downtown Glendale area, Kouyoumjian has a sign in his window that reads "Closed on April 24," which is followed by a sentence stating that 1.5 million Armenians were killed starting in 1915 at the hands of the Turkish government.

The signs were printed and distributed by the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee — comprised of 19 organizations — ahead of the 100-year anniversary of the genocide. About 12,000 of the signs were distributed throughout Southern California, according to the committee.

For 20 years, Levon Boghossian, owner of a clothing boutique on Maryland Avenue, said he closes his shop every April 24 and said there's more to the sign than letting people know a business will be closed for the day — it's about spreading the message.

"We let people know why we're closing and why we're commemorating the Armenian genocide that happened 100 years ago so that people, the ones that don't know about it, they'll read about it," he said.

Boghossian's father was born in the Turkish city of Izmur in 1915.

Both he and Kouyoumjian said they weren't aware of any non-Armenian business owners who had displayed the sign, though they are welcome to do so. But that absence of participation didn't bother either of the local business owners.

Kouyoumjian, however, said he views observance of the genocide as a duty for Armenians.

On April 24, many Armenians flock to the streets of Hollywood and march in protest on the way to the Turkish consulate, while others head to church to remember the Armenian genocide victims.

For Kouyoumjian, it definitely won't just be a day off.

"I'll be marching with my family," he said.

 

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
78°