Armenians march, demonstrate in L.A. to protest genocide denial

Thousands of Armenians chanted outside the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles Wednesday to commemorate the massacre of some 1.5 million of their ancestors 98 years ago -- a genocide that has yet to be officially recognized by the U.S.

Chanting “We will fight, we will fight, until the end!” in Armenian, the large crowd decried decades of denial by modern day Turkey that a genocide occurred during the time of the Ottoman Empire.

PHOTOS: Armenians protest at Turkish Consulate to end genocide denial

Among them was Glendale resident Armen Aroutiounian, 19, who called it a “pathetic” political game that after 98 years, the United States and Turkish governments refuse to recognize the genocide.

“Armenian people need closure,” he said, adding that he takes part in the annual protests almost every year. “More voices means more opinions, and more opinions means more leniency toward recognition.”

Dozens of “Hye Riders” motorcycle club members roared their engines on Wilshire Boulevard, while cyclists with the Armenian Cycling Assn. — clad in red, blue and orange cycling suits — sat nearby on their bicycles.

“We just want our youth to remember and understand it's part of our history,” said cyclist Edmond Aslanian.

Also on Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) — who for years has unsuccessfully introduced legislation in the House that would officially recognize the massacre as genocide — addressed his colleagues on the floor in Armenian.

His remarks came on the same day President Obama once again did not use the word “genocide” in his annual statement about the tragic event.

The demonstration in L.A. was organized by the Armenian Youth Federation. Calls to the Turkish Consulate were not returned.

Frustration over the U.S.’ resistance to recognizing the genocide — and angering a key NATO ally in the Middle East — was prevalent at a number of commemoration events in the region Wednesday, including in Glendale and Pasadena.

For some, the history and ongoing struggle of the Armenian community has made them stronger, Aroutiounian said.

“Through bloodshed of innocents is when society grows a lot stronger,” he said.

-- Alene Tchekmedyian,

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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