LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thousands of Armenian-Americans took to the streets of Los Angeles on Tuesday to commemorate the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a century ago.
The demonstrations came hours after Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned following 10 days of large anti-government protests in that country.
Marchers in Los Angeles demanded that the 1.5 million deaths starting in 1915 be recognized by Turkey as genocide.
Although Armenians and many historians consider it to be genocide, Turkey - successor of the Ottoman Empire - contends those who died were victims of civil war and unrest.
Los Angeles demonstrators waved Armenian and American flags and carried signs that read “1915 never again” and “Turkish denial must end.”
Marie Keshishian, an 18-year-old student at Glendale College, said all four of her great-great grandparents were killed in the genocide and that she was marching in their honor.
“I’m out here today to march for justice, to march for recognition, to march for the people - my ancestors, my great-great grandparents who lost their lives … to hopefully get more people to recognize and accept that there was a genocide,” Keshishian said.
Andrew Antaramian, a 32-year-old Pasadena attorney, said he joins in the marches every year to honor his ancestors, who fled Armenia and escaped death.
“It’s important to always commemorate what our ancestors have gone through because if this is not going to occur again, we have to remind the world what our people went through,” he said.
Mayor Eric Garcetti marched alongside demonstrators, saying in a speech that the genocide was “a human tragedy.”
“To be a part of the human family we must accept our tragedies,” Garcetti said. “And all of us will say, ‘Never again.’”
City Attorney Mike Feuer told demonstrators that “today here in Los Angeles, we are all Armenians.”
“Look around,” he said as the crowd cheered. “You are the answer to Hitler.”
Kim Kardashian West, one of the most famous Armenian-Americans in the U.S., tweeted an old photo of herself in Armenia and praised global demonstrations calling for the genocide to be recognized.
“It’s so inspiring to see all Armenians united in peaceful protests making a difference,” she said. “It’s a historic day for Armenia.”
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