Mixer: The word “genocide,” and its importance to Armenians

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From Kim Kardashian to the Pope, the cause to recognize the Armenian genocide has gotten vocal support in recent weeks, leading up to today’s centennial anniversary.

Armenians point to solid evidence from historians that genocide, at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, indeed took place. But Turkey claims it was not genocide, only killings that took place during turmoil amid a relocation effort. The United States, a Turkish ally, has avoided officially using the term ‘genocide,’ despite campaign promises made by President Barack Obama.

(Some historical perspective about what happened here and here.)

How the history is defined and discussed is a huge issue among the Armenian population of greater Los Angeles. The area is home to the largest population of Armenians in the U.S.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Little Armenia and Hollywood today, to march to the Turkish consulate to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

The commemoration began with City Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell and Paul Krekorian, and a host of other elected officials, including the bulk of the L.A. City Council and Rep. Adam Schiff, dedicating Armenian Genocide Memorial Square on the southeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue.

There were a few reports of small skirmishes outside the consulate, where a small group of Turkish supporters waved flags and held a rally of their own.

Ara Khachatourian is English editor of Asbarez, a bilingual newspaper that serves the Armenian-American community. He joined us for this week’s Mixer.