Biden’s Recognition of Armenian Genocide Praised in Burbank

Photo Courtesy Romik Yaghoobimasihi
Mayor Bob Frutos addresses attendees of last Saturday’s event recognizing the Armenian Genocide and memorializing the estimated 1.5 million Armenians killed. Behind him are City Councilmember Nick Schultz, Rep. Adam Schiff, City Councilmember Konstantine Anthony and Reps. Judy Chu, Tony Cárdenas and Jimmy Gomez.

Burbank representatives and a local Armenian community group are commending President Joe Biden’s recent recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Biden’s announcement was the first made by a United States president recognizing the Ottoman Empire’s killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in present-day Turkey. Last Saturday, April 24, 106 years after the genocide began, his statement was echoed by several local leaders during an event in front of Burbank City Hall.
The chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America in Burbank, which is home to a significant Armenian population, placed a genocide memorial outside the building, at which attendees could leave flowers. City hall was also lit that weekend with the red, blue and orange colors of the Armenian flag.
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Genocide Recognition is Appreciated, Armenians Say

Last week’s declaration from President Joe Biden that the United States formally recognized the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire during World War I, even though it was expected, was widely welcomed by Armenian Americans and human rights advocates nationwide.
Now, advocates say they will pivot their energy toward the logical next steps beyond this milestone, which includes seeking a more tangible acknowledgement of the atrocities that left upwards of 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered at the hands of Turkish nationalists in the waning empire. The erosion of Armenians’ sovereignty over their historic lands mostly continued in the aftermath, as the emergent republic was absorbed by the imperialist Soviet Union and, after regaining independence, twice warring with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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A Time of Pandemic, Protest, Change

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
A large crowd marches down Central Avenue en route to Artsakh Avenue in support of Armenia and the Artsakh Republic in their conflict with Azerbaijan. The local Armenian diaspora’s efforts have included activism and donation drives.

For many, Friday, Jan. 1, represented a long-overdue turn of the page from a year that lived up to no one’s expectations.
From the beginning of 2020, news trickled into American airwaves and newsprint that a mysterious virus had secretly wreaked havoc throughout much of China and had begun spreading at uncontrolled levels through South Korea, Iran, Italy and Spain. Reports of overwhelmed hospitals, mass graves and widespread lockdowns also spread.
And then the accounts started coming out of New York City. And Seattle. And a well-known pork processing plant in South Dakota.
By March 11, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was declared to be a global pandemic. Locally, by March 13 — auspicious, indeed, as a Friday the 13th — school districts were closing, cities were declaring states of emergency and officials were openly discussing what would become the Safer at Home orders. Restaurants were limited to takeout or delivery. Personal care services, entertainment venues and bars closed. Nonessential retailers had to close. The NBA suspended its season.

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City Council Votes to Condemn Azerbaijani Aggression

Photo courtesy Armenian National Committee of America Burbank
Advocacy group Burbank for Armenia held a fundraiser to raise money for Armenia on Monday. Attendees included Burbank Unified School District Board President Armond Aghakhanian, Armenian National Committee of America’s Burbank chapter chairman Sarkis Simonian, city Councilman Timothy Murphy and other supporters.

The Burbank City Council voted this week to condemn Azerbaijani aggression in the mostly Armenian region of Artsakh, a disputed area over which Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have clashed.
Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, includes the Hadrut province, with which Burbank declared a friendship in 2014.
Reported violence by Azerbaijani forces in Artsakh has been the focus of widespread protests and rallies recently, with the Armenian flag becoming a not-uncommon sight in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
The panel’s unanimous vote also directed city staff members to send a letter of support from the council for a potential U.S. House of Representatives resolution, House Resolution 1165, that would condemn Azerbaijan’s military’s actions in Artsakh. The resolution’s authors include Reps. Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman, who represent Burbank.

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Local Officials Voice Support for Artsakh Amid Conflict

Local officials this week, bolstered by overwhelming public support, joined the cacophony of the world’s Armenian diaspora in excoriating Azerbaijan and Turkey for their amplified military action in the Republic of Artsakh.
The City Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution harshly condemning the violence, and the Glendale Unified School District also issued a statement of solidarity with the diaspora and offering support for students with direct ties to Armenia and Artsakh. After some skirmishes between the Azerbaijani military and Armenian-bolstered defense units in Artsakh in July, the former began directing heavy artillery fire into the breakaway republic last weekend, reportedly including civilian targets.

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Armenian Group to Rally Today Over Foreign Conflict

The Armenian Youth Federation, through its western U.S. office in Glendale, will host a rally for unity today amid an escalation of military hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The rally will take place outside the Armenian Consulate on Central Avenue at 5 p.m.
And on Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 5:30 p.m., the local organization GlendaleOUT will host a gathering of solidarity for the Armenian community outside City Hall on Broadway. In observance of the pandemic, both events will require participants to wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing.
Similar demonstrations have occurred in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the U.S. since clashes between Armenia and Azerbajian were renewed on July 12. In the wake of the Soviet Union’s breakup, the two nations engaged in the 1994 Nagorno-Karabakh War as part of their broader ethnic conflict over territory largely occupied by Armenians but apportioned to Azerbaijan by the Soviets in their state’s early days.
The AYF plans to “celebrate our Armenian culture, heritage and strength” at today’s rally at 346 N. Central Ave.
The organization “is calling on our community to stand with us as we showcase our unity and strength and celebrate our culture and heritage in the face of Azerbaijani aggression against our homeland and Armenians around the world,” it wrote in its fliers.
This event follows a similar march, organized last week, where there were a variety of speakers and a number of signs left at the consulate. The Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America condemned the military clashes in a statement, and the House Armenian Caucus — which is co-chaired by Congressman Adam Schiff, a Burbank Democrat who also represents Glendale — called upon the Trump administration to take action to reel in Azerbaijan’s aggression.

For information about the youth federation, visit ayfwest.org.