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Thousands demonstrate in 'Little Armenia'

April 24, 2009 |  1:12 pm

Thousands marched in Hollywood today to commemorate the Armenian genocide and to protest President Obama’s decision not to use the word “genocide” when he issued a statement today remembering the mass killings that took place during the last days of the Ottoman Empire.

Carrying banners and signs, demonstrators marched down Hollywood Boulevard from Highland Avenue east to Hobart Boulevard and then south to Sunset Boulevard, winding up near the neighborhood designated as “Little Armenia.”

 Several community leaders then held a rally and denounced President Obama's decision to avoid the issue.

The march was part of annual commemoration ceremonies that came this year with expectations that Obama was going to make good on campaign pledges to reaffirm the U.S. record on the Armenian genocide.

"We as Armenian Americans know that our nation should properly recognize and condemn the Armenian genocide, and all subsequent genocides," Vache Thomassian, chairman of the Armenian Youth Federation YF, said in an earlier statement. "Now, more than ever, we have to rise above political expedience and take a moral stance against genocide."

 Other commemorative events are planned today in Los Angeles, including a demonstration at the Turkish Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard. A memorial was also held in Montebello this morning.

The Armenian genocide of 1915 to 1918 claimed the lives of about 1.2  million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, which became modern-day Turkey.

The Turkish government disputes that a genocide took place.

 --Teresa Watanabe