Students from the UCI Armenian Students’ Association (UCI ASA) helped lead a silent protest last Thursday on campus against the 100-year denial of the Armenian Genocide.
On Feb. 4th, UCI ASA members dressed in all black, placed red duct-tape over their mouths, and rallied in silence around Ring Road as a demonstration in light of the annual “Stain of Denial” protest.
Since 2011, ASA campus groups and other supporters have been participating in the protest to raise awareness regarding the Armenian Genocide on college campuses and to stress its lack of acknowledgement by the Turkish government.
“It is always powerful standing alongside those that feel the same frustration and belief in justice, while silently fighting a humble battle,” said UCI ASA protest organizer and fourth-year political science major Hasmik Piliposyan. “It is vital for such a protest to take place because it is a great way to spread knowledge and awareness of the crime of genocide, it makes people curious and hungry for more information.”
Throughout World War I and the years of 1915 to 1923, a vast amount of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire underwent organized deportation, starvation and other forms of violence.
“Over 1.5 million Armenians were systematically annihilated, amongst which were my own great-great grandparents, Harutun and Iskuhi Minasyan,” said protester and third-year political science major Rima Sahakyan. “Every year, the Genocide receives unparalleled attention, however Turkey continues to deny it, a denial that is considered a crime against humanity.”
According to Piliposyan, the genocide comprises a great part of the Armenian identity, wherein most of the culture’s youth are exposed to transgenerational trauma growing up. The protest has not only served the purpose of educating others and voicing opposition, but it has also allowed affected individuals to commemorate their culture’s history.
“For me, the silent protest not only is in [my great-great grandparents’] memory, but it also is for the human collective memory that continues to affect the lives of contemporary Armenians,” said Sahakyan. “It’s about standing up for human rights and making sure that individuals are held accountable for their actions.”