System of a Down Rally in D.C.

Hard rockers rally for recognition of Armenian genocide

April 4, 2006 1:47 PM ET

System of a Down will launch a three-day campaign for Armenian Genocide recognition in Washington, D.C., beginning April 24th. The Grammy-winning band, whose members are all of Armenian descent, plan to urge Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and various Congressional leaders to recognize Turkey's Armenian genocide by taking part in a rally outside of the Turkish Embassy.

The band also plans to hold a screening of Screamers, a documentary by Carla Garapedian about System's ongoing campaign for the cause.

The Armenian Genocide occurred during World WarI, between 1915 and 1923, when the Turkish government killed more than one-and-a-half million Armenians, driving hundreds of thousands more from their homes. It is considered by many to be the first genocide of this century, but the United States has not officially acknowledged it as such. In 2000, a House Resolution was slated to change that, until it was withdrawn by Hastert at the request of President Clinton.

"It's important for people to be aware of the Armenian Genocide," frontman Serj Tankian said in a statement. "History does and will repeat itself, unless we stop that cycle."

From their inception, System of a Down has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the historical tragedy and to raise money for political organizations like Amnesty International, Center for the Prevention of Genocide and Axis of Justice -- which Tankian co-founded with Audioslave's Tom Morello. The subject has also found its way into songs like "P.L.U.C.K. (Politically Lying, Unholy, Cowardly Killers)," from the band's self-titled 1998 debut, which states "A whole race of Genocide/Taken away all of our pride/A whole race of genocide/Taken away, watch them all fall down."

In order to increase awareness, since 2000, System of a Down have staged an annual "Souls" benefit show. This year's performance, however, was cancelled for undisclosed reasons.

System of a Down's latest album, Hypnotize, the companion album to their top-selling Mezmerize, debuted at Number One last November. The Los Angeles quartet will headline this summer's Ozzfest tour alongside Ozzy Osbourne and Disturbed, opening July 1st in San Francisco.

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