Thousands are expected to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Armenian genocide on Thursday, with several high-profile events scheduled across Southern California.
The observances come just days after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered condolences to Armenian descendants of the massacre — an atrocity that Turkey still refuses to describe as a genocide. Roughly 1.5 million Armenians were killed starting in 1915 amid the chaotic collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
With among the largest Armenian diasporas in the world, Glendale and East Hollywood will host a number of events Thursday, including a rally expected to draws thousands to Hollywood Boulevard in Little Armenia. A separate demonstration is planned for outside the Turkish consulate on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, where the prime minister's recent comment will likely be a hot topic.
“We do not see this as being something that is an adequate and appropriate acceptance of responsibility for the international crime that had been committed,” Berdj Karapetian, chairman of the Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America, told the Glendale News-Press in response to Erdogan's comments.
In his statement, Erdogan said it was "indisputable that the last years of the Ottoman Empire were a difficult period, full of suffering for Turkish, Kurdish, Arab, Armenian and millions of other Ottoman citizens, regardless of their religion or ethnic origin," but he did not specifically refer to the genocide.
Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan called the statement weak and indirect.
“I think his statement is evasive and insincere. It’s not the condolences Armenians expect from the leader of the Republic of Turkey,” Sinanyan said.
Laws in California and 41 other states officially recognize the massacre as genocide, as do many nations.
Among the major public events scheduled in the area Thursday:
—The Armenian Community Coalition will host a commemoration event at 10 a.m. at Pasadena City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Ave. The event will feature several speakers.
—Unified Young Armenians will host its annual mass demonstration in Little Armenia at 10 a.m. at Hollywood Boulevard and Hobart Street.
—The Armenian Youth Federation will host its annual protest in front of the Turkish Consulate, 6300 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, from 4 to 6 p.m.
—Glendale hosts it annual free, ticketed commemoration event starting at 7 p.m. at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd. The event features speakers and performances.