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ALSA’s “100 Years of Denial” Armenian Genocide Commemoration

April 27, 2015

By Jack Pogosian, 3L

President of the Armenian Law Students Association

April 24th, 2015 marked the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Law Students Association (ALSA) worked tirelessly to organize an event held on April 23rd to commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. ALSA was proud to have Judge Larry Alan Burns, United States District Judge in San Diego, as their keynote speaker. The event was attended by many TJSL students and members of the greater San Diego community.

The Armenian Genocide is commemorated each year on April 24th because it was on that day in 1915 that Ottoman leaders rounded up about 250 Armenian intellectuals in modern-day Turkey and either murdered or deported them. Following that event, innocent Armenian men, women, and children were uprooted and forced into death marches in the Syrian Desert, where they were either murdered or died from malnutrition. The number, according to historians, range from 1.5 million to 2 million killed at the hands of Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923.

Jack Pogosian 3L, President of the Armenian Law Students Association, gave a brief introduction about the Armenian Genocide. He explained that the title of this event “100 Years of Denial” is in reference to the fact that Turkey, until this day, refuses to acknowledge the acts of 1915 as Genocide despite the overwhelming evidence and eyewitness testimonies. Pogosian commented on the resilience of Armenians, their accomplishments around the world, and acknowledged a few Armenian intellectuals in attendance, such as TJSL’s own Professor Christopher Guzelian, highly successful complex litigation attorney Edward Gergosian, Archrpiest Rev. Fr. Datev Tatoulian and keynote speaker Judge Larry Alan Burns. Finally, the floor was given to Judge Burns, who truly moved the audience with his remarks, and educated attendees by answering many questions for the final half hour of the event.

Judge Larry Alan Burns has served as a United States District Judge in San Diego since 2003 and prior to that was a United States Magistrate Judge for 6 years. Judge Burns, whose mother’s maiden name was Momjian, was the third judge of Armenian ancestry to become an Article II federal judge.

Judge Burns began with a bit of history regarding the Armenian Genocide, and particularly a personal and graphic account of his grandfather, a survivor of the Genocide. Heavy emotions befell attendees upon Judge Burns’ recitation of his grandfather’s experience. Judge Burns mentioned that most, if not all Armenians of his generation have been effected by the Genocide and have gut-wrenching and painful stories from their family of their ancestors surviving, or worse, becoming victims of the first Genocide of the 20th century.

Judge Burns talked about Armenian culture and history, and how the nation is based on perseverance and strong will. He read a quote by American-Armenian author and Pulitzer Prize winner William Saroyan, illustrating the cohesive nature of the Armenian people, and how the shared culture and history forms an undeniable bond between Armenians in all walks of life.

It is important to the Armenian community that many of the attendees were non-Armenians who showed their support and came to learn about the Genocide in 1915. By spreading awareness and gaining recognition, we commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide, and through this channel bring awareness to all crimes against humanity.

The Armenian Law Students Association thanks all who attended this commemoration and honored the memory of the Armenian victims, while learning a great deal about the Armenian nation and its history.