LOS ANGELES, CA— California’s State Democratic Party included recognition of the Armenian Genocide as part of its official Party platform at the conclusion of the Party’s Convention held in Los Angeles on February 15-7, 2002.
The Armenian Genocide was included in the section regarding Freedom and Democracy and reads as follows: `…Urge the Administration to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.’ The language referred specifically to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923, which resulted in the persecution and murder of over 1.5 million Armenians living in their ancestral homeland. The United States Government has yet to officially recognize and reaffirm the historical record of the first genocide of the 21st century.
The platform is the California State Party’s statement of principles and lays out the values and issues that guide Democratic candidates and Democratic office holders. The 2002 Platform is the culmination of a yearlong process. Platform hearings, both statewide and locally, were held and were open to Democrats from all over the state to come and express their views on various issues and positions. The full body of the California Democratic Party adopted the 2002 Platform at the Annual State Convention on February 17, 2002 which was held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.
The process of including the Armenian Genocide into the platform began last year with the efforts of the ANCA-WR when local activists from Northern, Central and Southern California ANC chapters, working in cooperation with Armenian American Democratic activists, began pushing for inclusion in the platform. Democratic Party officials heard testimony and received fact sheets from ANC representatives.
Longtime activist Richard Sanikian, of the ANC Central California Chapter and co-sponsors Art Hampar, a delegate to the California State Party Convention and Richelle Noroyan, Chairperson of the Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council (AADLC) and a Democratic Party Regional Director presented the proposal for language calling for recognition of the Armenian Genocide in August of 2001 during a regional platform hearing.
As part of the ANCA-WR’s efforts to outreach to elected officials and push for adoption of language calling for recognition of the Genocide, the ANCA-WR had an information booth at the State Party Convention. ANCA-WR staff and volunteers met with elected officials, party delegates and community activists and passed out literature informing attendees about the ANCA-WR’s position on issues of concern to Armenian Americans.
`We felt that with the convention being held in the heart of the largest Armenian-American community in the United States, it was very important that the ANCA use the opportunity to outreach and educate high-ranking elected officials and grassroots activists about our issues,’ explained Ardashes Kassakhian, ANCA-WR Government Relations Director. `I am especially pleased that the ANC’s goal of establishing a California Trade Office in Armenia was well received by the hundreds of elected officials and activists who visited our booth. By educating the present and future decision makers, we succeeded in conveying the importance of improving the Golden State’s economic relations with the fledgling Republic of Armenia.’
With regards to the tremendous success of the ANCA-WR information booth, Executive Director Alex Sardar added that the ANCA-WR plans to have a booth at the Republican State Convention next year.
The inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the Party’s platform concluded a nearly two-year effort spearheaded by the ANCA-WR. Last year, AADLC Board Member and prominent Democrat Paul Krekorian and ANC activists Areen Ibranossian and Angela Pinto pushed successfully at the State Party convention for the adoption of a resolution calling upon full recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The resolution set the tone for the language adopted into the Party platform this year.
‘I felt that the ANC booth provided a fantastic opportunity to convey our community’s message to the people who are well informed and politically involved,’ said Areen Ibranossian, a delegate to the State Party Convention. `Having ANC volunteers passing out literature was a tremendous help and provided excellent exposure for our issues.’
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.