September 15, 2010
For Immediate Release
Contact: Lerna Shirinian
tel: (818) 500-1918

ANCA-WR TO HONOR HUMAN RIGHTS CHAMPION CONGRESSMAN HOWARD BERMAN DURING ANNUAL BANQUET

GLENDALE, CA – The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) is proud to announce that it will be honoring human rights champion Congressman Howard Berman as Man of the Year during its annual Banquet on October 24, 2010. The honor is among the organization’s highest awards and is being granted to Congressman Berman for his leadership on the Armenian Genocide Resolution – H. Res. 252 – as well as for his years of support on issues of importance to the Armenian American community.

“We would like to pay a special tribute to Congressman Berman for his ardent support of our issues over the years,” said ANCA-WR Banquet Committee Member Raffi Kassabian. “Congressman Berman has truly demonstrated his dedication to advancing important human rights legislation and rejecting a foreign government’s gag rule on the United States Congress. His tenacity and courage is truly worthy of special commendation.”

Despite an intense campaign of threats and coercion by the Turkish government and its lobbyists in Washington, as well as last minute opposition from the Obama Administration, the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee took a major step towards ending U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide by adopting the Armenian Genocide Resolution – H. Res. 252 in March of 2010. As Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), successfully led this effort.

During his remarks, Chairman Berman noted that even though the United States and Turkey are allies, there should be no justification for Turkey turning a blind eye to the reality of the Armenian Genocide. “I don’t pretend to be a professional historian. But the vast majority of experts – the vast majority – academics, authorities in international law, and others who have looked at this issue for years, agree that the tragic massacres of the Armenians constitute genocide,” stated Chairman Berman. He also referenced Professor Yehuda Bauer, a highly respected scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has called the Armenian Genocide “the closest parallel to the Holocaust.”

H.Res.252, introduced in March of 2009 by lead sponsors Adam Schiff and George Radanovich (R-CA), and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), currently has over 150 cosponsors. A parallel Senate measure, spearheaded by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and John Ensign (R-NV), has 13 cosponsors. The Armenian Genocide resolution calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Howard Berman attended U.C.L.A., where he received his B.A. in 1962 and his LL.B. in 1965. From 1967 until 1973, he practiced law in Los Angeles, specializing in labor relations. In 1973, he was elected to the California State Assembly. In his first term in the state legislature, then-Assemblyman Berman was named Assembly Majority leader, the youngest person ever to serve in that leadership capacity. He also served as Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and the Policy Research Management Committee of the Assembly. In 1982, Berman was elected to Congress where he was named to the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees.

Following his appointment as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in March 2008, Congressman Berman negotiated a five-year, $50 billion reauthorization of our global HIV/AIDS programs, authored legislation that removed Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress from the U.S. terrorism list, and passed a bill to strengthen U.S. assistance to Israel. In the 111th Congress, his top priorities include improving America’s diplomatic strength through a reauthorization of the State Department, assistance to fight terrorism in Pakistan, and improving the efficiency of U.S. foreign aid.

As Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Congressman Berman plays a key role in shaping the copyright, trademark, and patent laws that are of vital importance to the entertainment, biotechnology, broadcasting, pharmaceutical, telecommunication, consumer electronics, and information technology industries. As a member of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, in the 111th Congress Congressman Berman will play a key role in trade legislation, combating international copyright piracy, and immigration reform. Congressman Berman is particularly well-known for his ability to form bipartisan coalitions.

The 2010 Annual Banquet, which is set to be a sold out event, will be held on October 24th at the Universal Sheraton in Los Angeles. Individuals interested in attending the ANCA-Western Region banquet are encouraged to call (818) 500-1918.

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.