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ANCA: West Coast Communities Commemorate Armenian Genocide

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  • ANCA: West Coast Communities Commemorate Armenian Genocide

    Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region
    104 North Belmont Street, Suite 200
    Glendale, California 91206
    Phone: 818.500.1918 Fax: 818.246.7353
    [email protected]
    Friday, April 28, 2006

    Contact: Maral Habeshian
    Tel: (818) 500-1918


    GLENDALE, CA - This year, Armenian American communities, student
    organizations, and youth throughout the West Coast commemorated the
    Armenian Genocide more actively than ever. The Armenian National
    Committee of America - Western Region (ANCA-WR) brought together
    elected officials and dignitaries to mark the 91st anniversary of the
    genocide alongside Armenian Americans. Whether in Las Vegas, Colorado,
    New Mexico, Fresno, San Francisco, Phoenix, Montebello or Los Angeles,
    the message remained clear: the US government must once and for all
    speak with moral clarity and officially recognize the Armenian

    Thousands gathered at the Armenian Martyrs Monument in Montebello on
    Sunday, April 23rd to commemorate the 91st anniversary of the Armenian
    Genocide. Elected officials joined Armenian religious leaders to honor
    the victims of the genocide and demand proper recognition and justice
    for the first genocide of the 20th Century.

    In her introduction, Mistress of Ceremonies State Senator Jackie
    Kanchelian-Speier stressed `We demand justice because we know, as
    students of history, that our world is more dangerous by virtue of
    Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide.' She urged all Armenians and
    elected officials to utilize their passion and power, along with
    perseverance to stop the cycle of genocide forever.

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Peter Cowe, Narekatsi
    Professor of Armenian Studies at UCLA, and Turkish Publisher Ragip
    Zarakolu served as keynote speakers.

    Speaking about US Ambassador John Evan, Mayor Villaraigosa said
    `Earlier this year, we witnessed a rare display of diplomatic
    courage...John Evans spoke out about these crimes by stating the
    obvious - he used the word `genocide.' And, for this, some are now
    trying to end his career. They want to silence him. They want John
    Evans recalled from his post.'

    Among the many elected officials were Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez,
    Congressman Adam Schiff, Member of the Board of Equalization John
    Chiang, California State Senator Jack Scott, Assemblymembers Judy Chu,
    Ron Calderon, Lynn Daucher, Jerome Horton, Carol Liu, along with a
    host of other members of area City Councils.

    Many who spoke pointed to the genocide in Darfur today and asked
    whether the unpunished genocide of Armenians has not perpetuated the
    cycle of genocide in the world.

    Around four-hundred Fresno Armenians gathered at City Hall on April
    22nd, for a joint Fresno ANCA-City Hall sponsored event that was
    emceed by Councilman Tom Boyajian and featured Congressman George
    Radanovich (R-CA), Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), Assemblyman Juan
    Arambula, ANCA-Fresno Chairworman Hygo Ohannessian, and Glendale City
    Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian. As the keynote speaker, Kassakhian said
    that it was not only an honor to speak in Fresno, the home of William
    Saroyan and great heroes of the Armenian Cause such as General
    Antranik and Soghomon Tehlirian, but also inspiring to see Congressmen
    George Radanovich and Jim Costa as well as Assemblymember Arabuela,
    and Mayor Autry on hand to promote Armenian Genocide recognition

    On Sunday, community members visited the Soghomon Tehlirian Monument
    in the Massis Ararat Cemetery to honor Tehlirian and commemorate the
    victims of the Armenian Genocide. ANCA-WR Board member Armen Martin
    spoke of the persistent struggle in getting not only Turkey to
    recognize the genocide, but also the United States that goes as far as
    stifling a long-time career diplomat for his acknowledgment of the
    Armenian Genocide. `As Americans we are outraged by this. As
    Armenians, we are insulted by this,' Martin said, encouraging the
    crowd to be ever vigilant in demanding recognition and justice for the
    Armenian Genocide.

    The South (San Francisco) Bay Armenian community held a somber service
    on April 23rd at St. Andrew Armenian Church in Cupertino. On the
    following day, April 24th, the Mt. Davidson Cross was the site for a
    requiem ceremony led by clergy of Bay Area Armenian churches. On
    Tuesday, the Bay Area Armenian community rallied across from San
    Francisco City Hall, where a commemoration program hosted by Mayor
    Gavin Newsom was later held. Keynote speakers featured Dr. Antranig
    Kasparian and Dr. Richard Hovanissian. Addressing the almost 600
    community member and guests in attendance, Kasparian detailed the new
    dimensions of Armenian-Turkish relations, stressing that gains may be
    achieved by engaging Turkish society, while maintaining pressure from
    the outside. Distinguished guests included Henry Morgenthau IV, great
    grand-son of Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Consul General of Greece
    Xenia Stephanidou, Deputy Consul General of Russia Yuri Bedjanian, San
    Francisco County Board Supervisors S! hawn Elsbernd and Aaron Peskin.

    The ANCA-Arizona chapter commemoration featured ANCA-WR Board member
    Thomas Azaian who addressed the crowd of over 400 at the genocide
    monument in Phoenix as part of the day's events which also featured an
    Armenian Youth Federation-led march to the State Capitol. Azaian
    touched on the pressure exerted on US Ambassador to Armenia John
    Evans, since his proper acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide this
    past autumn. Rather than punishing the Ambassador, Azaian called on
    President Bush to follow Evans' lead in properly acknowledging the
    Armenian Genocide. Azaian stressed, however, that the goal of genocide
    recognition is justice, not mere affirmation of a historical fact.

    Emphasizing the Arizona Armenian community's strong leadership and
    active youth, he noted, `They are ready to work and can deliver. There
    is a lot of potential here.'

    Arizona State House Representative Ted Carpenter was among those
    participating in the commemoration program. Ani Shekerjian presented
    Governor Janet Napolitano's proclamation in honor of the Armenian

    Glendale City Clerk and former ANCA-WR Executive Director Ardashes
    Kassakhian, joined the Armenian Cultural Association (ACA) of New
    Mexico for its commemoration in Albuquerque on April 23rd. The day's
    events began with the placing of a memorial plaque and tree outside
    the Albuquerque Museum, followed by a memorial service at the ACA's
    community center.

    In his keynote address, Kassakhian briefed the community on the
    continued denial campaign waged by the Republic of Turkey and spoke of
    their effectiveness in challenging this effort by reaching out to
    elected officials.

    Albuquerque resident A.J. Kerian presented Mayor Martin Chavez's
    proclamation on the occasion of the commemoration.

    Commenting on the event, Kassakhian said the efforts of the growing
    community are impressive. `A proclamation is a strong indicator of
    their success; I look forward to the future accomplishments of the New
    Mexico Armenian American community as they work with organizations,
    like the ANCA, to raise awareness within their communities regarding
    issues of concern to all of us.'

    The ANCA-WR also participated in commemoration events in Las Vegas,
    Nevada and Denver, Colorado. Back in Los Angeles, ANCA-WR leadership
    addressed the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society-organized
    panel discussion regarding the Armenian Genocide and distributed
    petitions at the `Izabelles Scar 2006' benefit/awareness concert,
    featuring the apex theory, Harout Pamboukjian, the Freeway People, and
    special guests John Dolmayan (System Of A Down), and poet/word-smith
    Knowledge, among others. ANCA-Glendale Director Alina Azizian
    delivered remarks on the occasion at an event organized by Bank of
    America. ANCA leadership and members also joined the Armenian Youth
    Federation for its annual protest in front of the Turkish Consulate in
    Beverly Hills, California.

    The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) 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

    Editor's note: Photos attached.
    Photo 1 caption: ANCA-WR board member Souzi Zerounian addressing the
    Los Angeles City Council.
    Photo 2 caption: Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti
    presenting Los Angeles City Council resolution on the Armenian
    Photo 3 caption: Armenian American community leaders and members with
    Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Dennis Zine.