Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 24, 2013
Genocide awareness month calls attention to the unspeakable chapters in human history, but one tragic tale remains a victim of widespread denial. Many highly publicized events honor those who perished in Nazi Germany, yet few have the courage to speak out against the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million innocents at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Armenian activists admit that the recognition movement is gaining momentum; a Kurdish leader in the Turkish Parliament recently made a public apology to the Armenian people on behalf of his ancestors. Still, survivors will not rest until every nation accepts responsibility for the past to demonstrate a commitment to a peaceful future. In the US, thousands of human rights advocates pay homage to the deceased in the hopes of finally gaining official recognition from the Federal Government. Even some businesses are participating in local protests despite political pressure to ignore this controversial issue. PrintFirm in Canoga Park is expressing solidarity with Los Angeles area activists by "going black" for a day on social media sites. The commercial printing company will replace its profile picture with a black icon to promote grass roots support for this worthy cause.
PrintFirm manager Alex Vartanian reflects on how this decision may impact the business: "It's a risk I'm willing to take. I don't care if we offend anyone. I don't want to do business with people who can't face the facts. What's more offensive to me is sitting by and acting like nothing happened. The denial is beyond offensive, it's immoral." An overwhelming body of evidence points to a systematic extermination of Armenians that began in present day Istanbul on April 24th, 1915. The men were slaughtered while women, children, and the elderly perished during forced deportation to the Syrian Desert. Ottoman troops purportedly raped and tortured the marchers at will. Armenians weren't the only targets as Assyrian Christians and Greeks also died at the hands at the Ottomans (armenian-genocide.org).
To date, 20 countries and numerous municipalities recognize these events as genocide with a few notable exceptions. The Turkish government insists that no genocide occurred and attributes the casualties to surrounding civil and interstate conflicts at that time. The Turkish regime argues that violence occurred on both sides, and claims Armenians committed similar acts against Muslims during revolts. Meanwhile, the US as well as the United Nations maintain a neutral position that many interpret as a form of passive denial. Scholarly opinions generally substantiate the Armenian version of the massacre. Historians identify the Armenian atrocity as the first genocide of the 20th century, a distinction that provides little comfort to the handful of refugees alive today. Survivors fear that without openly confronting the legacy of violence, others will be inspired to engage in ethnic cleansing. These concerns are not without merit. Hitler reportedly used the Armenian genocide to justify the invasion of Poland (dailymail.co.uk).
PrintFirm CEO Nick Artounian echoes Vartanian's sentiment: "1915 changed my family forever. Because of what happened, Armenians are scattered instead of being together in our home country. I am doing this for all the Armenian people. I am not afraid to stand up for them. If I have to use my business to spread the word, so be it." Artounian is prepared for a potential backlash, but the company anticipates a positive response from its online communities. Los Angeles is home to 2nd largest immigrant population in the Armenian diaspora. The Glendale area in particular holds a large concentration of Armenian residents as does the Hollywood enclave known as "Little Armenia". Several memorial events are happening throughout the city, so PrintFirm's gesture will not fall on deaf ears. The company plans to repeat the blackout every year until the issue is finally laid to rest.
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