Red Poppy: Visual Interactive Forum / 99th Armenian Genocide Commemoration -
Over 400 people joined local and international dignitaries and the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat chapter in commemorating the Armenian Genocide during the Red Poppy Visual Interactive Forum on April 12th and 13th in Glendale, California.
The list of dignitaries including: Consul for Economic and Community Affairs for the Republic of Armenia, Suren Vardanyants; Glendale City Mayor Zareh Sinanyan; Glendale City Clerk Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian; Glendale Armenian National Committee Chairman Berj Garabedian; Executive Director of ArmeniaFund, Sarkis Kotanjian; and Armenian National Committee Western Regional Member Steve Artinian, joined the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter in commemorating the Armenian Genocide during the first Red Poppy Visual Interactive Forum on April 12th and 13th.
Live musicians played duduks, while visitors milled around the large-scale installations intended to communicate the context and scale of the first genocide of the 20th century, the Armenian Genocide. The installations included a 40ft x 60ft map of Western Armenia (now Eastern Turkey) showing the villages of Armenians that were decimated during the genocide, as well as life-size photos of the ravages of the genocide, including a haunting photo of a Turkish soldier taunting starving Armenian children with a piece of bread. Guests were allowed the opportunity to walk on a platform filled with sand and rocks to experience the road traveled during the Armenian Genocide when 1.5 million Armenians were driven from their homes in Ottoman Turkey and forced on an exodus through the Der Zor desert.
After viewing the installations, guests were allowed to take part in a panel discussion facilitated by forum host David George Gevorkyan. Panelists included: the lead United Nations prosecutor of the Rwandan Genocide, and current congressional candidate for the 33rd district, Barbara Mulvaney; Former California State Assembly member and current member of the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee, Anthony Portantino; Near Eastern scholar Dr. Garabet Moumdjian, Near Eastern Scholar and founder of ArmenianHighlands.com Gevork Nazaryan; and Syrian Armenian Relief Foundation founder, Zaven Khanjian.
At the conclusion of the panel, guests were surprised by a flash mob conducted by the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter Choir: children from ages six to ten spontaneously began to sing the Armenian National Anthem.
Event creator and director Edik Balaian explained “The purpose of this event was not just to talk about the Armenian genocide in terms of facts, but to talk about the genocide in terms of the scale of the tragedy, and the context within which this genocide took place.”
Homenetmen Public Information Officer and event host, Sona Krikorian stated “The idea was to talk about uplifting the human spirit to go past our collective victimhood. We, as the descendants of the survivors of the genocide, owe it to those who perished not just in the Armenian Genocide, but in all crimes against humanity, to speak out against these atrocities and hold their perpetrators absolutely accountable.”
Forum host David George Gevorkyan “The interactive forum established a new model for commemorating and recognizing the Armenian Genocide. It gave an opportunity for participants to be more involved and knowledgeable about the issue by providing new information and a fresh perspective to the facts.”