What is the world saying about the Armenian Genocide?

(Katie Couric explains the Armenian Genocide in the video above.)

The overwhelming and unprecedented international attention, compassion and acknowledgment Armenians have received in regard to the Genocide in recent weeks is incredible.

The entire world is discussing the Genocide of over 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children. As we approach the centennial commemoration – April 24, 1915 is the Red Sunday when Ottoman authorities gathered some 250 Armenian intellectuals and leaders in Constantinople to eventually murder them — a Who’s Who of modern-day, socially conscious luminaries have gone on the record and opened the discussion about one of the darkest chapters in world history.

The Ottoman Empire’s systematic killing and attempted ethnic cleanse — the stories and images too common and too dark — of Armenians was the first Genocide of the 20th century. It was a fact Pope Francis further cemented earlier this month.

Over 130,000 in Los Angeles alone — as well as other corners of the world — marched for justice. Los Angeles city officials said it was the second-largest public gathering in L.A. history.


Highlights from public figures and international media outlets from recent weeks:

As Senator, on April 12, 2007, Barack Obama said, “for those of you who are not aware, there was a Genocide that did take place against the Armenian people. It is one of these situations where we have seen a constant denial on the part of the Turkish government.”

Obama said in a statement on Jan. 19, 2008: “The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact.”

Here is Obama’s statement from 2015.

“Turkey has never accepted the term genocide, even though historians have demolished its denial of responsibility for up to 1.5 million deaths.”
The Guardian.

Pope Francis commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Genocide on April 12 by labeling the massacres as the “first genocide of the 20th century” and invited the two Catholicoi at the top of the Armenian Apostolic Church’s hierarchy to frankly speak as well.

Turkish officials did not accept the dark truth. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials sharply criticized Pope Francis.

It wasn’t the first time a Turk was unhappy with the Pope, as evidenced in 1981 when one tried to kill Pope John Paul II.

Eerily similar to the Holocaust — and quite frankly setting up the blueprint for Hitler — the Armenian Genocide is a human rights issue that concerns non-Armenians alike. That is why UFC champion Ronda Rousey was in Armenia on April 24 to commemorate the centennial. Hollywood icons Cher — one of the most famous Armenians in the world as documented here in her 1993 relief efforts — George and Amal Clooney, Hugh Grant, Bill Belichick, Mia Farrow, Rob Lowe, Joe Manganiello, Tom Morello, Martina Navratilova, Lupe Fiasco, The Game, Dan Bilzerian and Katt Williams — among countless others — have all recently took turns condemning the acts too.

Sarkis Teke is the last living native Armenian in a Turkish city of Kayseri that was once full of them. “All my life I’ve fought to stay here, and I’ve paid a heavy price,” he says. Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the day that Ottoman authorities began rounding up ethnic Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Istanbul, then known to Christians as Constantinople. By the end of 1915, the splintering empire’s minority Armenian communities were wiped out. Turkey still disputes any suggestion that Ottoman forces committed genocide in 1915, saying the deaths occurred as part of war in which Turks were also killed by Armenians. But most independent scholars have described it as genocide, however, and more than 20 nations have formally recognized it as such. Learn more by tapping the link in our profile. (Photo: @moniquejaques for @wsj)

A photo posted by Wall Street Journal (@wsj) on

George Clooney joined the launch of The 100 Lives initiative to commemorate Genocide with Ruben Vardanian in March. Clooney’s said it’s his goal “to focus global attention on the impact of genocide as well as putting resources toward ending mass atrocities around the world.” Clooney’s wife Amal, an international human rights lawyer, spoke on behalf of Armenia at the European Court of Human Rights in regard to genocide denial in January.

Newspaper Asbarez recapped Clooney’s remarks:

In her arguments Clooney highlighted Turkey’s hypocrisy for defending the Right to Freedom of Speech in Europe, while at the same time Hrant Dink is murdered in Istanbul, and the same anti-Armenian sentiments of a 100 years ago are still alive in the country.

Clooney went on to accuse the court of being “simply wrong. It [the court] casts doubt on the reality of Genocide that Armenian people suffered a century ago.”
“Armenia must have its day in court,” she added. “The stakes could not be higher for the Armenian people.”

In her presentation, Clooney pointed out Turkey’s double standards on freedom of expression, when the country has been notorious in suppressing speech, jailing journalists and event going as far as to ban social media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter.

“Armenia is not here to argue against freedom of expression any more than Turkey is here to defend it. This court knows very well how disgraceful Turkey’s record on freedom of expression is,” she said. “You have found against the Turkish government in 224 separate cases on freedom of expression grounds.”

” … There were 2 million Armenians. Just a few short years later, there were only 400,000 left.

“The Turkish government spends millions and millions of dollars every single year using their clout to lobby against anyone in the world pushing a bill to recognize it. Apparently their clout is significant because even the United States of America hasn’t officially recognized it yet,” said political commentator Glenn Beck, who pondered “are we seeing history repeat itself?”

“Voices from Armenia’s past, 100 years after massacre” — BBC

Comedian Katt Williams was more straightforward with his remarks.

The message is clear in every language. Athletes David Nalbandian, Jose Meolans, Juan Carlos Olave, José Palazzo and Carlos Hairabedian call on the world to recognize the Armenian Genocide. (Video in Spanish)

UFC stars Randy Couture, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Gegard Mousasi call for recognition.

System of a Down, a group of Armenian rock musicians, have always put the cause at the forefront of their music, as evidenced with their international Wake Up the Souls tour that culminated in Yerevan’s Republic Square on April 23 with a riveting (and free) two-hour show.

The world had an unfiltered front-row seat to Kim and Khloe Kardashian (arguably the most-famous Armenians in the world) and Kanye West’s excursion to Armenia this April that was documented and dissected by every media outlet. More importantly, it brought awareness to a century-long cause and enlightened an entirely new audience to Armenia’s rich history and culture.

The climactic moment featured Kanye West perform a free impromptu concert in Yerevan and jump in a lake to frenzied fans.

For every Kardashian, there are millions of other Armenian families with a story that embodies resilience.

It’s time for Turkey to recognize and admit there was an Armenian Genocide.

AGBU conference recap

I had the pleasure of participating in AGBU’s “Sports: Shaping a Nation” conference March 22 at Woodbury University in Burbank, Calif.

The conference kicked off with me discussing how sports helps create a national identity, the role of sports in global diplomacy, how gender and youth are manifested in athletics and the value of sports for the individual, community and nation.

Over the course of the forum, I also had a question and answer with Edmond Tarverdyan about his ascent through the ranks as a boxing and MMA trainer. Tarverdyan covered a variety of topics over a 20-minute interview, including working with his most notable fighter, UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey.

Q&A with Edmond

Panel Discussion

The afternoon culminated with me moderating the panel discussion featuring five professionals in their respective fields.

The Armenian General Benevolent Union, a non-profit organization that promotes identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, considered me an expert in the field because of the work I’d done as the managing editor of the international lifestyle publication Yerevan Magazine. During my time at the magazine, I interviewed and wrote feature profiles on Armenia’s most notable athletes.

Organizers indicated afterwards the conference was a success, and all in all, I couldn’t agree more.