San Francisco, CA – Ambassador John Evans, the most recent U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, called upon the U.S. Congress to pass the Armenian Genocide resolution. Evans addressed a capacity crowd of over 400 guests gathered in San Francisco for the Bay Area Armenian National Committee’s annual Hai Tahd Evening banquet on March 10, 2007.
Members of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) also joined the Bay Area ANC to honor Ambassador John Evans. Evans was prematurely recalled from his post and dismissed because of remarks he made while visiting California in 2005 regarding his open acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. His remarks were furiously protested at the time by the Government of Turkey which pressured the U.S. State Department to dismiss Amb. Evans from his post in Armenia. In his speech at the ANC banquet, Ambassador Evans discussed the book he will be writing about the Genocide issue and explained how he came to embrace the importance of the issue of addressing U.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide, stating “I do believe that in the long run, my stance in support of recognition, will be vindicated, if not this Spring, then at least by this Congress.” He continued later to state “The Armenian Genocide should be recognized as such by this Congress.” Evans also highlighted the importance of genocide recognition efforts by the community. “…those of you who’ve devoted hours of your days, years of your lives, fighting for recognition for what happened to your forebears. I stand here tonight in admiration of all of you. I salute you tonight, and I also thank you for your efforts on my behalf, when it seemed to you as if I was being done an injustice.”
Prior to Ambassador Evans’ remarks, the program featured remarks from Bay Area ANC Chairwoman Roxanne Makasjian who highlighted the many important milestones achieved by the Bay Area ANC in the past year and the importance of maintaining community activism. She also highlighted the need for the community to remain steadfast in the face of Turkey’s disingenuous efforts to position themselves as seeking reconciliation with the U.S. State Department’s help. “We cannot pursue “reconciliation” without recognition,” stated Makasjian. “How genuine can the government’s gestures at dialogue and reconciliation be when it started re-trial proceedings against Hrant Dink, three weeks after he was dead.”
Also addressing the audience was ANCA-WR Board member Steve Dadaian and ANCA Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian who introduced the Ambassador and the significance of his role as both Ambassador to Armenia and the Genocide recognition issue.
In the remarks made by the ANCA-WR’s Steve Dadaian, he discussed the importance of passing the Armenian Genocide Resolution in Congress, especially this year because of the current evolution of the genocide issue and the political landscape. Dadaian also elaborated upon the immense opportunities that exist today in advancing the community’s issues. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – and this dog’s got a lot of fight in it,” stated Dadaian in reference to the power of grassroots activism and the community. Dadaian applauded the Bay Area ANC on its local work and sited as an example how the Bay Area ANC has secured 15 of 17 possible Representatives as cosponsors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in Congress.
Elizabeth Chouldjian, ANCA Communications Director introduced Ambassador John Evans. In her opening remarks she described the ANCA’s key role in defending Amb. Evans’ courage to speak openly about the Armenian Genocide. “Our message to the State Department is clear — come clean on the firing of Ambassador Evans, withdraw the Hoagland nomination, and end the shameless pandering to the Turkish Government,” stated Chouldjian. “And if the State Department doesn’t have the guts to stand by one of its own, to honor the man who tried to bring dignity and morality to American foreign policy, then the ANC and Armenian American community will.”
Andrew Kzirian, Executive Director of the ANCA-WR and Haig Hovsepian, Community Relations Director of the ANCA-WR also traveled to San Francisco to join fellow ANC activists and colleagues in honoring Evans and to help continue building the ANCA-WR’s grassroots network.
The Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in 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.
PHOTO CAPTION: ANCA-WR Executive Director, Andrew Kzirian joins Ambassador John Evans at the Saturday evening reception in San Francisco. (Photo by Raffi Momjian)