York University Students Gather to Remember the Fallen

By Samita Sarkar, Excalibur , 6 May 2009

Photo By Alex Pylyshyn
Keghart.com apologizes for not publishing this article on time.
 


By Samita Sarkar, Excalibur , 6 May 2009

Photo By Alex Pylyshyn
Keghart.com apologizes for not publishing this article on time.
 

Sitting amidst a circle of red roses, York University students gathered to commemorate the Armenian genocide that took place nearly 100 years ago. The April 29 ceremony in Vari Hall was intended to inform students of the lesser-known genocide.
 
Pamphlets were distributed to educate students on the tragic event that often receives considerably less attention than the commemoration of other similar moments in history, such as the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide or Darfur’s current crisis. The Armenian genocide took place during the political turmoil of the First World War, when a Turkish political faction of the Ottoman Empire known as the “Young Turks” killed hundreds of thousands of Armenians in pursuit of the creation of a homogenous nation. The Armenians commemorate April 24, 1915, when a large number of high-profile Armenians were captured by the Turkish government.

Beginning in 1915, Turkish forces succeeded in massacring an estimated 1.5 million people by 1923 – over half the Armenian population at the time. Armenian Students’ Association at York (ASAY) external advisor Daniel Ohanian speculated that the number of people killed during the Armenian genocide would be equivalent to wiping out York’s population 30 times over.
 
Event organizer Houry Seukunian said the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the existence of this genocide to this day. “Maybe if it was given a bit more attention, future genocides could be prevented,” she said. Ohanian echoed Seukunian’s sentiment. “In the U.S. alone, the Turkish government spends millions of dollars to deny or otherwise revise the history of the genocide. It’s a crime in Turkey to affirm that it happened,” Ohanian said.
 
Seukunian noted that there are some celebrities who are known for publicly discussing the Armenian genocide, most notably singer Cher and the politically-conscious metal band System of a Down.   Seukunian compared the events of the Armenian genocide to what has taken place in Sudan’s Darfur region, where more than 200,000 people have been killed since 2003 and more than two million people have been uprooted from their homes.
 
But for Seukunian, all is not lost. She said the fact York University encourages students to remain informed on social issues and educate themselves about these large-scale human rights violations is a positive sign.

– With files from the Armen Karo Student Association and the United Nations Population Fund

 

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