LA Armenian diaspora marks massacre, celebrates political change

Serzh Sarkisian, president of Armenia. (AFP pic)

LOS ANGELES: Thousands of Armenian-Americans marched in Hollywood on Tuesday in their annual commemoration of the massacres perpetrated under the Ottoman Empire.

The event came just after major protests led to the shock resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, following eleven days of protests against his rule.

Reality star Kim Kardashian, who is of Armenian origin, tweeted: “It’s so inspiring to see all Armenians united in peaceful protests making a difference. It’s a historic day for Armenia.”

Aroutin Hartounian, president of the Unified Young Armenians, told AFP the atmosphere was “more positive” because “there was a victory for the youth, the new generation, the democratic ideals” — referring to Sarkisian’s resignation.

“I believe the new generation was able to topple the government without firing a shot.”

“We hope it serves as an example for all democratic revolutions in the world.”

Armenia is home to some 3 million people, but the diaspora numbers 8 million people, the largest population of which is in Russia and second largest in the United States.

Armenians worldwide hold annual commemorations on April 24 marking the mass killings, which remain a diplomatic minefield amid a lack of international consensus over Armenia’s bid to get the deaths recognized internationally as a genocide.

Armenia says an estimated 1.5 million people were killed by Ottoman forces in 1915, and has labeled the massacre a genocide.

Modern Turkey has always rejected the term, putting the toll at 500,000 and blaming their deaths on war and starvation.