Descendants of Holocaust victims and survivors lit seven candles at the City Council meeting to commemorate their families and the six million massacred.
Nina Guttman and David Drexler lit a candle for their mother, Rena Drexler, who survived four years in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. Steve Harman lit a candle for Holocaust survivor Irving Belfer, who escaped from a death march.
Moments later, dozens of Armenians flooded the steps outside City Hall clutching candles to commemorate the 1.5 million Armenians massacred in the genocide that started in 1915.
“With our efforts, we will let the world know that their absence is felt,” said Mher Boghigian, member of the Armenian Youth Federation, which hosted the event.
The genocide, perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire 98 years ago, is not recognized by Turkey or the United States government. Event-goers said denial becomes more painful with each passing year.
“We must stand side-by-side in remembrance of the victims and pledge to take action in their memories,” said federation member Nazeli Khodabakhsh, 21.
Genocide denial, she added, sends a message that “violence can be left unpunished if enough politicians are convinced.”
Raffi Orphali, chairman of the AYF, also called on federal officials to recognize the genocide.
“Turkey should be responsible for its actions,” Orphali said. “We need the support of the people working at the federal level.”
The City Council presented proclamations to the Burbank Human Relations Council and the Armenian Youth Federation in recognition of the two massacres.