Washington, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) is pleased to report that human rights advocates from all over the western United States traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in “Advocacy Week 106” from Monday, December 3 through Friday, December 7. The Armenian Genocide resolution (H. Res. 106) passed through the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 10, 2007 by a vote of 27-21 despite unprecedented opposition by President Bush and other facets of the administration, including current and former high-ranking cabinet officials from the Departments of State and Defense.
“We have seen scores of constituents expressing deep concerns over the inaccurate, misrepresented and distorted nature of media coverage on the resolution in October,” stated ANCA-WR Executive Director Andrew Kzirian. “These human rights activists traveled to Washington, DC to help set the record straight and remind Members what the resolution is really all about – ending the cycle of genocide and not succumbing to Turkey’s denial,” he added.
Convening at the ANCA’s Washington headquarters, constituents from Idaho, Arizona, Texas and California conducted over 150 meetings on Capitol Hill with Members of the House and Senate. Although not usually in session at this time of year, Congress will likely convene well into December to address various pieces of appropriation legislation. Constituents viewed this extra time in session as an opportunity to help raise awareness of recent developments regarding the resolution and the Turkish government’s denialist activities.
John Kazian of Kuna, Idaho attended meetings with members of the Idaho delegation in the House and Senate, and also joined activists at numerous other meetings with other districts. A veteran of the Korean War and a child of Armenian Genocide survivors, Kazian relayed his unique perspective on what Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide represents in the context of perceived and coerced national security threats. “Turkey will do what it wants – and that is what it has been doing resolution or not,” stated Kazian. “Congress passing this resolution symbolizes a strong sense of closure for survivors and their descendants – tolerating denial constitutes the last stage of genocide and we must address this,” a passionate Kazian added.
Vatche Hovsepian and Taleen Asadourian of Houston, Texas conducted over twenty meetings with Members of the Texas delegation. Hovsepian, as Texas ANC Chairman and Asadourian, as a leading activist at the University of Texas – Austin updated offices on local activities and development, focusing on the need to pass H. Res. 106 and work toward ending the cycle of genocide. “We are pleased to work with Members of the Texas delegation in raising awareness on this important human rights bill,” stated Hovsepian. “Turkey’s destabilizing activities in Iraq are occurring regardless of the timetable for scheduling a vote on H. Res. 106,” Asadourian added.
Elen Asatryan, Executive Director of the Glendale ANC also traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate on the Armenian Genocide resolution. Asatryan attended numerous meetings, expressing concern that the resolution’s explicitly stated goals of acknowledging the United States record of humanitarian assistance during the Armenian Genocide were being exploited by a foreign government that is overtly conducting destabilizing military operations in peaceful areas of Iraq. “Having a chance to meet with Members of Congress provided me with the opportunity to share the community’s concerns on this important issue,” stated Asatryan. “In 2003 there was no Armenian Genocide resolution, and Turkey did not allow the United States to utilize the ‘northern front’ to aid the Iraq war effort. Developments in the past two months after the resolution passed through committee shed light on the reality that Turkey continues to conduct military activities in Iraq regardless of the status of the Armenian Genocide resolution,” she added.
Arby Eivazian, an intern with the Glendale ANC’s newly launched Internship program expressed concerns over the recent Genocide Prevention Task Force to be led by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense Robert Cohen. “This task force is the epitome of obnoxious hypocrisy,” stated Eivazian. “How can Albright and Cohen participate in anything related to genocide when they worked against H. Res. 106? Sharing this sad irony with Members of Congress was necessary to raise awareness of the dangers of emboldening and abetting denialist policies,” he added.
Salpy Demirjian, Chairwoman of the Arizona ANC helped to inform Arizona Congressional and Senatorial Members of the rapidly growing and energized Armenian American community of Arizona. Demirjian has also conducted outreach through the state Democratic party. Demirjian also updated offices on recent news pertaining to the resolution. “It is every Armenian American’s responsibility to engage their elected officials and raise awareness of the importance of ending the cycle of genocide,” stated Demirjian. “I greatly look forward to returning to Arizona to update the community,” she added.
William Bairamian of Glendale, California has volunteered with the ANCA for the past two months, beginning in October of 2007. During his time in Washington, DC Bairamian worked with Kzirian and ANCA-WR activist Allen Yekikan and the ANCA-WR media monitoring team to collect and process news articles pertaining to H. Res. 106. This project culminated in the production of a 300 page bound media document chronicling over 100 positive and accurate news stories covering the resolution. Over the past week, Bairamian attended numerous meetings and helped to ensure that Members received this critical collection of press. “My time in Washington, DC showed me the importance of properly and effectively conducting our grassroots efforts so that Members’ offices have access to the right data to make informed and intelligent decisions,” stated Bairamian.
The Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots political organization. Working through a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the US and around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian-American community on a broad range of issues.
Photo Caption #1: Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX-11) (center) joined by (from left to right) ANCA-WR Executive Director Andrew Kzirian, ANCA-WR Chairman Raffi Hamparian, Texas ANC Chairman Vatche Hovsepian, Idaho ANC Activist John Kazian, ANCA Capital Gateway Fellow Daniel Stepanian, ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian and Glendale ANC Intern Arby Eivazian.
Photo Caption #2: Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ-06) joined by (from left to right) ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian, Arizona ANC Chairwoman Salpi Demirjian, and Idaho ANC Activist John Kazian.
Photo Caption #3: Congressman Bill Sali (R-ID-01) joined by Idaho ANC Activist John Kazian.