Pan Armenian Council of Western USA Condemns and Urges Investigation into Recurring Arsons at Fresno’s Historic Ararat Armenian Cemetery

April 16, 2024

The Pan Armenian Council of the Western United States (PAC-WUSA) is profoundly dismayed by and strongly condemns the recent destructive arson at the Ararat Armenian Cemetery in Fresno, where eight trees near the cemetery’s historic gates were set ablaze in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 13th. Ararat holds the distinction of being the oldest Armenian cemetery in the United States, serving as the final resting place for hundreds of Armenians since the 19th century including renowned figures Soghomon Tehlirian and William Saroyan.

Every year on April 24th, the cemetery is purposed as a safe gathering place for the community at large to solemnly commemorate the anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, during which more than 1.5 million Armenians were systematically massacred and displaced from their ancestral lands by Ottoman Turks. Beyond remembering the victims, these annual gatherings also function as demonstrations, urging the global community to recognize the genocide that both Turkey and Azerbaijan actively deny to this day.

It’s deeply concerning that this recent fire occurred just eleven days before Ararat Cemetery observes this year’s Armenian Genocide commemoration—and more disturbingly, that it’s the sixth incident of its kind since January of this year. These repeated acts of arson have set aflame nineteen trees so far, causing significant and costly damage to the cemetery’s oldest sections.

Ignoring this recurring pattern would be gravely irresponsible. The Pan-Armenian Council strongly urges federal, state, and Fresno’s local authorities to immediately undertake a comprehensive investigation and act decisively to apprehend the responsible culprit(s). We emphasize that the frequency, severity, and similarity of these incidents at the Ararat Armenian Cemetery necessitate a serious consideration of these crimes as deliberate acts of vandalism and hate crime.

Listed below are the member organizations of the Pan Armenian Council of the Western United States (PAC-WUSA).

All-Armenian Student Association

Armenian Assembly of America

Armenian Bar Association

Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg of North America

Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Ramgavar) Western USA

Armenian Educational Foundation

Armenian Evangelical Union of North America

Armenian General Benevolent Union, Western District

Armenian International Women’s Organization

Armenian Missionary Association of America

Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region

Armenian Relief Society of Western USA

Armenian Revolutionary Federation of Western USA

Armenian Rights Council of America Western USA

Armenian Society of Los Angeles – Iranahay Miutyun

Armenian Youth Association of California – Irakahay Miutyun

Armenian Youth Federation of Western USA

Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of the Western USA

Homenetmen Western USA

Iraqi Armenian Family Association of Los Angeles

Kessab Educational Association

Organization of Istanbul Armenians

Service Employees International Union – Armenian Caucus

Southern California Armenian Democrats

Tekeyan Cultural Association

Unified Young Armenians

Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America

Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Sonia Meroian
Email / Tel: (818) 745-4555
Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region
104 N. Belmont St. Suite 200, Glendale CA 91206 | | @anca_wr