FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE)- President Biden labeling the Russian assault on the people of Ukraine as genocide. “Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be Ukrainian,” The president recently said.
Thousands of Ukrainians have lost their lives in cities and villages bombarded by Russian troops. Brutal acts sadly seen before. In 1915, the Ottoman Turkish empire attempted to wipe out the Armenian people from their historic homeland – it’s labeled the “first genocide of the 20th century.” Atrocities Turkey to this day denies.
April 24, 2022 marks the 107th commemoration of the Armenian genocide. Fresno’s Honorary Consul of Armenia Berj Apkarian says we must remember the genocide in which one and a half million Armenian people lost their lives because the lack of consequences for what happened in Armenia, allowed countries like Russia to wage the horrific war we see today. “Basically we’re paying the price for inaction at that time where we did not deal with the situation. we could have prevented many other atrocities and genocides around the world, ” Apkarian says.
The genocide drove the Armenian survivors worldwide. Now two, three and even four generations later, the central valley is home to tens of thousands. But their ancestral homeland is not forgotten. Apkarian leads local doctors on a yearly medical mission to Armenia, and in March took a small group to Lebanon, providing free medical care to impoverished Armenians and others in and around Beirut. He credits the community, donations and Community Health Systems for making it possible.
“Whereever the Armenian communities and they are in need. as long as I got the community’s backing, I’ll take my time and do it,” says Apkarian
Marking an enormous loss 107 years ago. A story that sadly repeats itself even to this day. But it also marks the survival of a culture.. that in spite of everything- even genocide- continues to thrive.