By: Katy Simonian
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) will honor Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) with the prestigious Advocate for Justice Award at the 2022 ANCA-WR Awards Gala, which will be held on Sunday, September 25 at The Beverly Hilton.
As a representative of the 28th District, Congressman Schiff has faithfully represented the Armenian American community, becoming the leading legislative voice for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, building better diplomatic relations between the United States and the Republic of Armenia, and promoting policies to prevent future crimes against humanity in the Republic of Artsakh and across the globe. For over two decades, he has written and passed resolutions in support of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, refusing to give in to disillusion through years of persistent, transformative legislation. He is the Vice Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, representing the largest Armenian Diaspora community in the United States.
Each year, standing on the floor of the House of Representatives the Congressman has delivered remarks commemorating the Armenian Genocide, while calling for recognition, accountability and justice. His thoughtful words prove that justice transcends language, as he says “Today, on April 24th, we are all Armenians in our pursuit of justice.” In 2014, he worked to ensure the Armenian Orphan Rug, known historically as the Ghazir Rug would be viewed in an exhibit for the White House Visitors Center in a poignant display of recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the generosity of U.S. aid to the Armenian people.
Through numerous presidential administrations, he has worked tirelessly to help educate his colleagues in both parties and the American people overall on the importance of gaining formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, in which 1.5 million Armenians perished. In 2019, after decades of persistent effort and hard work, the House finally voted to pass his resolution to recognize the Armenian Genocide with near unanimity, with the Senate following suit with overwhelming bipartisan support. The passing of this resolution sent a direct message to the world, that the U.S. government would no longer be complicit in the denial of the first genocide of the twentieth century.
His years of gallant efforts, with the dedication of tens of thousands of Armenian American activists and historians from around the world, came to fruition when in 2021, President Joseph R. Biden issued a declarative, unequivocal statement in recognition of the Armenian Genocide, launching a new era of U.S. foreign policy. On President Biden’s historic recognition, Congressman Schiff expressed his hope to build upon the landmark legislation in the name of liberty and justice for all people. “For Armenian Americans and everyone who believes in human rights and the truth, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide marks a historic milestone. The President of the United States has at long last recognized the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians for what it was – the first genocide of the 20th century,” he said. “The President, the Congress, and the American people now speak with one voice: We will never again be silenced and we will never forget.”
Congressman Schiff is a powerful voice in the House, serving as Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and remains an ex officio member of the House Appropriations Committee. He previously served on both the House Judiciary Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee since his election to Congress in 2000. Before his election to the House, he served as State Senator for California’s 21st District and was the youngest Senate member at only 36 years old. He has taught numerous political science courses at Glendale Community College and delights in engaging with his constituents to bridge the gap between people and their representatives. In addition to spearheading legislation to help the Armenian American community, he remains a leading advocate for the environment, education, veterans and protecting democracy. He embraces the values of family in every part of his legislative record and is a loving husband to his wife Eve and father to their children Alexa and Elijah.
Remaining true to his word, Congressman Schiff was the first member of Congress to call for the formal U.S. recognition of the Independent Republic of Artsakh. In light of the recent 44 Day War, following attacks on Artsakh from Turkish-backed Azeri troops, he introduced a resolution calling for the release of Armenian prisoners of war. He remains a prominent voice in advocating for human rights and is committed to paving a path for a peaceful resolution in which the result is the self-determination of the people of Artsakh with the total backing of the international community.
On receiving the Advocate for Justice Award, Congressman Schiff is humble, reflecting with his trademark humility and a renewed determination to bring forth a new day in which all people may unite in the name of truth and justice. “I am very grateful for the honor of this year’s Advocate for Justice Award. As the representative of one of the largest Armenian Diasporas in the world, I have been proud to work side-by-side with my Armenian constituents for recognition, justice, and the protection of their loved ones at home and abroad. It is a privilege to bear witness to their testimonies, to study their histories, and to share their hopes for the future – and to work to ensure those stories will be shared with generations of Americans to come,” said Congressman Schiff. “Despite the progress we’ve made over the past two years, with President Biden at long last answering our call for America to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide, the persecution of the Armenian people continues today with Azerbaijan’s ongoing and unprovoked attacks against Armenia and Artsakh. I will not rest until the United States holds the Aliyev regime accountable for its atrocities, and the people of Armenia and Artsakh can finally realize their dreams of democracy, peace, and freedom.”
“The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is truly grateful to Congressman Schiff for his commitment to representing Armenian Americans and the issues that are important to us. His unwavering persistence and tenacity as an advocate for justice is an inspiration to his constituents and his fellow legislators,” said ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “Congressman Schiff leads with dignity and is one of the most knowledgeable voices on Armenian issues in the United States. We look forward to working with the Congressman toward building a better future, reaffirming our resolve to protect the human rights of the Armenian people,” she added.
In 1966, when reflecting on the need for America’s leaders to stand firm in the pursuit of justice, Robert F. Kennedy expressed the impact one man’s bravery can have on society – “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Never have these words been embodied more gracefully than through Congressman Adam Schiff’s passionate devotion to the Armenian Cause. His legacy of principled public service and unwavering dedication to issues of great importance to Armenians everywhere is an example of political courage for leaders in the United States and around the world.
As we reflect on the U.S. government’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide and Congressman Schiff’s ongoing devotion to the Armenian Cause, it is clear the ripple effect of his public service in the pursuit of justice will inspire generations to come.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan 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 in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.
For more information about Congressman Schiff’s extraordinary political courage in public service, as well as the 2022 ANCA-WR Gala, please visit https://ancawr.org/anca-press-releases/. To purchase 2022 ANCA-WR Awards Gala tickets, please visit ancawr.org/gala2022tickets.
Katy Simonian is a member of the 2022 ANCA-WR Gala Committee.