Solidarity of Kurdish and Armenian Voices on the Armenian Commemorative Events in Los Angeles

By Dr. Amir Sharifi:

In the last week of April, Armenian communities in Los Angeles held their annual Armenian commemorative events throughout the city. Members of the Kurdish communities participated in remembrance and protest activities including the Cycle Against Denial, a bike rally through Santa Monica that raised awareness against all genocides. On April 24, we also became part of a broad based coalition led by the Armenian Youth and the Armenian National Organization in the March for Justice in front of the Turkish Consulate to express our solidarity and condemn the genocide and the Turkish persistent denial. Nyma Ardalan, an active and prominent member of our community, read our message of solidarity to thousands of people in front of the Turkish. (See our message below). In addition to the Armenian Youth’s stellar role in the March, numerous undergraduate and graduate university Armenian student had organized a number of activities in the greater Los Angeles area. I was honored to have been invited to a panel discussion at the University of California, Irvine where the panelists discussed the origins, traumas, remembrance, prosecution, denials, lessons, anti-genocidal acts, and prevention of genocides, and prospects for justice. I presented the case of Ezidis ( Yazidis) in the context of ISIS massacres, highlighting the underlying relation between genocide and gendericide, and the active role that Ezidi women have played in rising beyond victimhood and taking their own destiny in their own hands by fighting the savagery of DAESH in the face of belated global response and delayed UN recognition of the genocide. Below is the message of the Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group read during the Great March.

Solidarity Message of Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group Los Angeles (KHRAG LA) to the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) and the Armenian Genocide Coalition (AGC):

We express and share the pain that Armenian communities feel on the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. We pay tribute to the victims, survivors, and descendants as friends and neighbors with whom we have shared ancestral lands and a common history, including sadly genocides. We particularly feel a profound pain at the shameful part that some treacherous Kurdish tribal leaders played in committing atrocities against Armenians and even non-Moslem Kurds. We also pay tribute to the many Kurds who endangered their own lives to save Armenians and help them escape the Genocide of the century, as a result of which one million and half Armenians were slaughtered, robed and deprived of their ancestral land through the first state sponsored Genocide.

As Kurdish Americans we pay tribute to our Armenian American friends, activists, survivors, and non-Armenian defenders of truth and human rights, particularly during a time that we have experienced new episodes of genocides in the Middle East over the span of four decades, from the Anfal genocide in Iraq in 1988 to the Ezidi (Yazidi) genocide in August 2014, as a result of which hundreds of thousands of Kurds have been massacred, displaced, and deported.

Like you we want the world to bear witness to the stories of survivors, the young girls and women who were taken hostage as spoils of war, enslaved to be bought and sold, and raped as spoils of war as Armenian women were during the Genocide. Tragically while this genocidal campaign was happening, the international community allowed the perpetrators to continue their rite of terror with impunity. It took three days for the world to come to the rescue of the victims trapped on Mount Shingal and two years for the massacre to be recognized as Genocide in 2016 as many countries have yet to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

We express your solidarity and cherish our partnership with you, forged in the midst of the great tragedies our nations have suffered. We know that our nations face difficult challenges as political and economic interests still overshadow moral imperatives and human rights. As we pay tribute to the memory of the victims and express our solidarity with the valiant struggle of the survivors, descendants, and Armenian activists in our common quest for justice and human dignity, it is essential that we impress upon the world that such genocides are bound to recur if we do not take collective action for formal recognition of genocides; in the words of Milan Kundera, we honor our collective memory “ to celebrate the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

Image shows Nyma Ardalan speaking at the commemoration.

Dr. Amir Sharifi  is Director of Human Rights Advocacy Group Los Angeles

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