The Armenian Student Union, in conjunction with several other student cultural organizations on campus, hosted the Stain of Denial: Silent Sit-in Protest on Thursday, Feb. 5. The protest, which was meant to acknowledge the 100th year of denial regarding the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire, was held in front of the Silent Tree outside of Geisel Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
ASU alumni instituted the Stain of Denial protests on the UCSD campus three years ago. The protests, which were held simultaneously throughout UC campuses on Feb. 5, aimed to educate students about the Armenian Genocide and the ensuing campaign of denial by the Ottoman Empire which is now the state of Turkey.
The event consisted of about 30 student protesters throughout the day and caught the attention of many individuals who stopped to speak with representatives from the various organizations.
ASU President Yeraz Kochkarian told the UCSD Guardian that the purpose of sitting silently in protest was to create a visual representation of the ongoing denial.
“The silence represents all of the silence around the issue essentially,” Kochkarian said. “And how politics and governments don’t talk about it or don’t refer to it as a genocide. This year marks the 100th year commemorating the genocide, so it’s especially important to make a visual protest demonstrating how this is still important 100 years later.”
Many of the protesters wore red tape over their mouths to further enhance this visual effect of the protest. They also wore black shirts to show their solidarity.
Besides being one of the representatives whom those passing by could question, Kochkarian was also holding a picture of her grandmother, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide who was rescued by French soldiers and taken to France before later returning to Syria and sharing her story. Other protestors held similar photographs and were willing to share other stories of survivors.
Among the other campus groups that came out to support the event was the Union of Jewish Students. Vice President of Outreach Yael Kempe, a senior from Sixth College, shared with the Guardian why it was important that UJS showed up to the event.
“Our club personally feels a very close connection to the ASU, and we feel like we need to show our [solidarity] to them as a coalition we have with them,” Kempe said. “I think also because our cultures are so similar and we’ve experienced the Holocaust and they’ve experienced the Genocide, its all one and the same. It’s nondenominational, and we’re here to show our support with AS[U].”
Other student organizations involved with the protest included the Armenian cultural Greek organizations Alpha Gamma Alpha, Zeta Chapter and Alpha Epsilon Omega, Eta Chapter. Also present were members of the Black Student Union and Kaibigang Pilipino. However, an affiliation with one of these groups was not necessary to join the protest.
Revelle College junior transfer Asher Alter, who is a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, stated that he came out to the event because the genocide was something that strongly affected him.
“It’s something that resonates deeply,” Alter told the Guardian. “It was the first genocide of the modern age, and the fact that it’s not recognized by most countries is a pretty big deal.”