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Glendale commemorates Armenian Genocide at Alex Theatre

The director of the Rose and Alex Pilibos Student Choir directs a section of the choir who are holding portraits in front of them at the city of Glendale's 15th annual Armenian Genocide commemoration at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Friday, April 22, 2016.

The director of the Rose and Alex Pilibos Student Choir directs a section of the choir who are holding portraits in front of them at the city of Glendale’s 15th annual Armenian Genocide commemoration at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Friday, April 22, 2016.

(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

During the 15th annual Armenian Genocide commemoration on Friday, Glendale Mayor Paula Devine said the city “has long stood with the Armenian community, and I’m proud to stand with you this evening.”

She said the event, held at the Alex Theatre, is a time to reflect, educate and remember the atrocities that began in 1915, after which 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire, now modern-day Turkey.

“Remember, this is history. It is history that tends to repeat itself,” Devine said. “We see it and we feel it today. Yet we also can see how resilient the Armenian culture is.”

Councilman Zareh Sinanyan gave a speech that decried Turkey, which, many decades after the genocide, is still waging a “proxy war” against Armenia and whose actions, he said, helped lead to the rise of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). The world can see, Sinanyan said, that Turkey is “more than ever isolated, more than ever seen for what it truly is.”

Councilman Ara Najarian, who has attended 12 of Glendale’s genocide remembrance events, served as the keynote speaker and used the occasion to talk about the origins of the genocide.

He noted that the Christian Armenians lived for generations in what is now modern-day Turkey, which took revenge against them as well as Assyrians and Greeks.

Najarian noted that his maternal grandmother threw herself into the Euphrates River, not wanting to become a sex slave. His maternal grandfather was forced to march, but managed to keep with him his Bible.

Najarian then held up the book, which has been passed down in his family.

“It was his treasure,” he said.

Ara Najarian gives the keynote speech during Glendale's 15th annual Armenian Genocide commemoration at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Friday, April 22, 2016.

Ara Najarian gives the keynote speech during Glendale’s 15th annual Armenian Genocide commemoration at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Friday, April 22, 2016.

(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

Najarian said the killers of today, like ISIS, are widely referred to as “terrorists,” but they really should be called “genocidal maniacs” because what they’re doing in Syria and Iraq have “frightening” similarities to what the Turks did more than 100 years ago.

“Turkey must admit that what they did in 1915 was a genocide,” Najarian said. “They should learn from history.”

Germany has apologized for its Nazi past, as has the United States for its use of slavery, Najarian said.

“Those wounds are beginning to heal,” he added, but that’s still not the case for Armenia.

“We won’t stop until Turkey admits that it committed genocide and that we get justice,” Najarian said.

The evening also featured a performance by the Djanbazian Dance Academy, the classical modern dance company based in La Crescenta, and music from Ara Dabandijan and Soseh Aramouni, both of Element Band.

Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities, the choir from Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School and David Samuelian, accompanied by keyboardist Aram Lepijian, also performed.

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Bradley Zint, bradley.zint@latimes.com

Twitter: @BradleyZint

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Rep. Schiff asks Obama to call Armenian Genocide what it is

Atrocity on exhibit in ‘Armenia: An Open Wound’


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