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Armenian community celebrates landmark

DOWNTOWN — A ceremony in honor of the 90th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson's Arbitral Award, which established a Turkish-Armenian boundary, attracted hundreds of people Sunday night in support of a sovereign Armenia.

Ninety years after Wilson defined a boundary for the two countries, Greg Krikorian, president of the Glendale Unified school board, told audience members that Turkey has continued to deny Armenians rights to their land.

"We want our land back," he said. "It's our land that they stole from us."

Wilson's actions gave Armenians hope, which Krikorian said must be passed on to younger generations.

"Each of us came here for hope," he said. "Each of us came here for a piece of our lives that was stolen."

After the downfall of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, Wilson drew a map of the Armenian territories as part of a Nov. 22, 1920, peace treaty.

The Western Armenian territories included 40,000 square miles, according to the Glendale-based Western Armenian Heritage Foundation, which hosted the event.

But Turkey claimed some of the territory by force, said the organization's president, Michael Sosikian. The territory then became part of the country in a treaty signed in 1923.

Armenians view the Arbitral Award as a stamp of approval from the United States, he said.

"It means the United States of America obliged to obey international law from their president; then we will see what Turkey says," Sosikian said.

Having support from Reps. Brad Sherman and Judy Chu, who was scheduled to speak at the ceremony, is a sign that some U.S. officials are trying to work toward a resolution, he said.

In the past two weeks, USC and UCLA held symposiums on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and the trend is moving toward full reparation, said Wilson's great-great-grandson, Donald Wilson Bush, president of the Woodrow Wilson Legacy Foundation.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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