LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — A Hollywood heavyweight is lending his voice to highlight the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians a century ago by Ottoman Turks.

Actor George Clooney traveled to Yerevan, Armenia, this week for the presentation of a new award on the eve of official commemorations of what is largely referred to as the “Armenian Genocide”.

Clooney has been a prominent voice in favor of countries recognizing the killings as genocide, which the United States has not done.

“It took a long and hard battle to finally call things by their names,” he said at a forum against genocide on Saturday, according to news reports. “You cannot deny what happened.”

On Sunday he will present the first Aurora Prize, a $100,000 award recognizing an individual’s work to advance humanitarian causes.

Clooney’s efforts come as President Obama again declined to refer to the massacre of Armenians as genocide, breaking an early campaign promise.

Obama, marking the upcoming Armenian Remembrance Day, called the massacre the first mass atrocity of the 20th century and a tragedy that must not be repeated. Yet he stopped short of using the word “genocide,” a phrase he applied to the killings before he became president in 2009.

Several events were scheduled in the Southland this weekend to to commemorate the anniversary, including events at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument in Montebello and a candlelight vigil at Glendale City Hall.

Up to 25,000 people are expected to attend a rally Sunday outside the Turkish Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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