SACRAMENTO– Over a hundred activists from across the Golden State joined the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) on April 15th for the Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in the State Legislature. Following the commemoration ceremonies, the ANCA-WR held its annual advocacy day in the State Capitol, educating legislators about issues of concern to the Armenian American community.
The State Assembly, in a moving ceremony led by Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (D-44), began its floor session with an invocation by Father Gosdanian, parish priest at Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church in Fresno, representing the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Church. The Walnut Creek “Gars” Chapter of the Homenetmen Scouts led the flag procession on the Assembly floor.
Earlier in the day, the Senate Commemoration, led by Senator Simitian (R-11), began a flag procession by the Santa Clara “Ani” Chapter of the Homenetmen Scouts, and was followed by an invocation by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church.
The Senate and the Assembly unanimously adopted SJR 26, authored by Senator Joe Simitian, during their floor sessions. The resolution designates April 24th as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day in California and calls on the United States Congress and President to do the same. Several legislators rose in support of the resolution, including Senator Carol Liu, and Assemblymembers de Leon, Smyth, Lowenthal, Arambula and Ammanio and urged their colleagues to support the measure.
“Denial of the Armenian Genocide or any genocide sets a dangerous precedent that makes future genocides more likely,” stated Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (D-44). “Let’s continue our tradition of this annual remembrance and send this resolution to Congress and the President to encourage them to do the same,” he added.
The ceremony in the Assembly included the recognition of those in attendance from the Armenian American community, including members of the ANCA-WR, Armenian Youth Federation, Homenetmen Scouts, Krouzian Zakarian Vasbouragan Armenian School in San Francisco and Sahag Mesrob Armenian School in Pasadena.
“I am glad to have had this opportunity to participate in the State Legislature’s commemoration of the Armenian Genocide and to take part in the ANCA-WR Advocacy Day,” said ANCA-WR State Affairs Committee Member Lara Garibian. “It’s important to make our voice heard in Sacramento and continue to educate legislators on issues of concern to our community.”
During the same floor session, the State Assembly also voted unanimously in favor of ACR 148, a resolution authored by Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon (D-58), which highlights the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument on State Highway 60. ACR 148 calls on the California Department of Transportation to erect signs on State Highway 60 directing motorists to the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument at Bicknell Park in Montebello. This important legislation highlights the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument as a beacon of awareness for all crimes against humanity. ACR 148 will be voted on in the Senate next week.
In addition to the ceremonies in the State Legislature, Assemblymembers Anthony Portantino (D-44) and Kevin de Leon (D-45) co-hosted the iWitness Photo Exhibit, a photographic project by artists Ara Oshagan and Levon Parian, during which they documented survivors of the Armenian Genocide. The iWitness Exhibit will be on display in the second floor rotunda of the Capitol building through April 30th of this year.
“With activists from all over the Los Angeles, Central Valley, San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento regions, Armenian Americans across California worked together with the ANCA-WR to ensure that California continues to be a leader in promoting human rights and genocide awareness,” stated ANCA-WR Chairwoman Aida Dimejian.“
Photo caption 1: Assemblymember Portantino with AYF Members
Photo caption 2: ANCA-WR Government Affairs Director Lerna Shirinian, Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes, ANCA-WR State Affairs Committee Member Lara Garibian and ANCA-WR Chairwoman Aida Dimejian
Photo caption 3: Assemblymember Kevin de Leon, ANCA-WR Government Affairs Director Lerna Shirinian and ANCA-WR State Affairs Committee Chair Raffi Kassabian
Photo caption 4: ANC Fresno Chairwoman Hygo Ohanessian, Assemblymember Arambula and Father Gosdanian