PASADENA, Calif. — On Friday, October 20, 28 Pasadena-based Armenian organizations united to shed light on the plight of Armenian POWs, MIAs and captured civilians and demand their immediate release from Azerbaijan.
The event commenced with a vigil at Pasadena Memorial Park’s Armenian Genocide Memorial. The vigil began with renowned duduk player Ruben Harutyunyan performing solemn melodies. Very Rev. Fr. Yeremia Abgaryan led the clergy and deacons in the Requiem Service and remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice for Armenia and Artsakh. Jonathan Dergazarian led the collective singing of Der Voghormia. In front of the Armenian Genocide Memorial, those in attendance paused for a moment of silence to show solidarity with Artsakh and remember those who were ethnically cleansed from their over two millennia homeland. Immediately following the vigil, the Armenian General Benevolent Union and HMEM (Armenian General Union for Physical Education and Scouts) Scouts were at the forefront of a long procession of young students and participants in a march towards Pasadena City Hall.
Television personalities Sona Movsesian and Jill Simonian served as co-masters of ceremony and shared heartfelt remarks at both Memorial Park and City Hall. Committee member Vache Sevadjian presented the Armenian language message on behalf of the coalition and highlighted that, for the first time, Artsakh is now tragically void of Armenians. Committee member Aleksan Giragosian presented the English language message and stressed the unity of the committee in seeking the immediate release of Armenian POWs and captured civilians. He also noted that there are 1,016 Armenians missing in action.
A poignant point of the program featured students reading – one by one – the names of Armenian civilians and prisoners of war currently imprisoned in Azerbaijan. With vigor, the students chanted the message, “You are not forgotten,” in English and Armenian. Great attention to detail was put into composing the list to show the utmost respect to those heroic Armenians over 8,000 miles away, who face inhumane treatment and bear witness to man’s inhumanity to man on a daily basis.
While each name was being read, a group of students held a large banner which read, “We appeal to the Lebanese government to secure the release of Lebanese citizen Vicken Euljeckjian,” who has been imprisoned in Azerbaijan since 2020.
The program concluded with the clergy joining to sing the Lord’s Prayer in Armenian.