ANCA Western Region Condemns Masis Ararat Cemetery Arson Attacks in Fresno

April 16 2024, 10:00


The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) is outraged by the arson attack that targeted the Masis Ararat Armenian Cemetery in Fresno. The Cemetery in Fresno, established in 1885, is the oldest Armenian cemetery in the United States and the final resting place of Armenian heroes and public figures such as Soghomon Tehlirian, Victor Maghakian, and William Saroyan.

According to the cemetery’s management, eight trees were torched by an arsonist at approximately 3am on Saturday, April 13, 2024. The incident marks the sixth of its kind since the start of 2024, bringing down more than 19 trees total in the cemetery, indicating that these incidents are potential hate crimes against Armenians. The arson attack came eleven days before the Cemetery’s newer section, dubbed Masis Ararat, is set to host an Armenian Genocide commemoration and flag raising ceremony at its Soghomon Tehlirian Monument.

“These heinous attacks on the Masis Armenian Cemetery are a clear indication that anti-Armenian sentiment is an unaddressed threat to public safety, and especially the Fresno Armenian-American community,” said Oshin Harootoonian, Chair of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors. “The local authorities must investigate the six incidents that have taken place since the beginning of 2024, and ensure that these patterns of crimes are effectively addressed, offender(s) be brought to justice, and that the Armenian-American community is compensated for all damages.”

“ANCA Central California chapter members are working closely with the board of the Masis Ararat Armenian Cemetery and the local authorities to determine the cause of this series of arson attacks, and to ensure the safety of our community in Fresno,” said Raffy Chekerdemian of ANCA Central California chapter. “The Armenian Community expects the local officials and police department to take all measures possible to prevent future arson attacks at this sacred cemetery.”

The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian-American community on a broad range of issues.