California Courier Online, May 11, 2006

1 - Commentary

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
2 - Armenian Summer
Games to Start
June 23 in Fresno
3 - UC Berkeley Gala Raises Endowment
For Armenian Studies to $700,000
4 - Armenians of Colorado Busy
With Legislative Agenda
5 - Catholicos Karekin II Visits Special-
Care Orphanage in Nor Kharberd
6 - Armenian Plane Crash Kills 113
7 - Armenian Consul to Japan Diana Apcar
Remembered Through Book at Prelacy
8 - Mehrabian Named
Recipient of College
Honorary Doctorate
9- Chamlian School Wins 7th Annual
Armenian Timeline Quiz Bowl
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1 -Commentary
Pres. Kocharian Says Today's Turkey
Is Responsible for the Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

In the vain hope of splitting the Diaspora from Armenia, Turkish officials
have been making self-delusional statements. They have repeatedly claimed
that Diaspora Armenians are the ones pushing for demands from Turkey, while
the people of Armenia supposedly just want to live in peace with their
Turkish neighbors.
On April 24 of this year, high-ranking Armenian officials went out of their
way to expose these Turkish distortions by taking a very tough stand
vis--vis Turkey. In an official statement issued on the occasion of the
91st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Pres. Kocharian went far beyond
anything he had said before on Turkish responsibility for the Armenian
Genocide. For the first time, he blamed not only the Ottoman Empire for the
Genocide, but also today's Turkish Republic.
Pres. Kocharian stated: "Today we commemorate the memory of the victims of
the Armenian Genocide. Ottoman Turkey and its legal successor bear full
responsibility for this crime. In the years succeeding the Armenian
Genocide, the survivors have borne the grave consequences of the committed
crime. The pain is all the more intense, as we are forced to struggle for
recognition as well as condemnation of that black page of history. The
Republic of Armenia, as the articulator of the national interests of
Armenians living in the homeland as well as those scattered throughout the
world, will continue that struggle. We are grateful to all the countries,
organizations and individuals who are supporting us."
The Prime Minister of Armenia, Antranik Margarian, in his April 24
statement, found it salutary that "the number of countries recognizing and
condemning the Armenian Genocide is increasing with each passing year.... The
efforts of today's Turkey aiming to deny the Genocide, distort the
evidence, cover up the facts, and silence the handful of Turkish
intellectuals who are exposing and condemning the shameful pages of its
history, are not only unhelpful in promoting a stable peace and good
neighborly relations in the region, but in an atmosphere of impunity, make
the perpetration of new crimes possible."
The Deputy Speaker of the Armenian Parliament, Tigran Torosian, said:
"Recognition of the Genocide will dignify Turkey and the Turkish people.
They can also not recognize it, but that won't change anything in the
The Deputy Minister of Defense of Armenia, Artur Aghabekian, stated:
"Turkey must understand that sooner or later the whole world, each and
every state, will recognize the Armenian Genocide.... Turkey will have to
recognize the Genocide. If it won't do it today, it will do it tomorrow.
How could it evade historical justice?"
In an interview conducted by Paul Chaderjian and aired on April 24 on
Armenia TV, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said: "Today, the children of
the survivors and the Government of Armenia, both, have been transformed
from victims to activists working with the international community to right
a historical wrong, to acknowledge a crime against humanity and to advocate
prevention of such crimes in the future.... Today, in its search for European
Union membership, Turkey is having to deal with history and memory and
identity. And of course, the existence of an Armenian state means that we
can raise these issues at an official government level."
When asked if it would not be wiser to let the Diaspora pursue the
recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the Foreign Minister emphatically
responded: "The Genocide affected every single Armenian. The responsibility
to right the memory of that wrong rests with all of us. The Armenian
Government has the moral responsibility to speak about the Genocide of the
Armenians, and to call for Genocide recognition. This responsibility is one
we fully acknowledge. In fact, the active involvement of the Armenian
Government and its representatives has also played a role in the progress
of the recognition process. The podiums and forums that are available to
the representatives of a state are many and we use them to make our case to
the international community. At the same time, as a responsible member of
that community, we know that we cannot make Genocide recognition a
pre-condition to our relationship with the Republic of Turkey. The irony is
that we, the survivors and victims of Genocide, don't make normal relations
conditional on its recognition, yet the Turkish side often suggests that
Armenia should put Genocide recognition aside if it wants normal relations
with Turkey. Clearly, we cannot."
Foreign Minister Oskanian then provided the possible reasons for Turkey's
refusal to face the Genocide issue: "There is perhaps a fear that entering
this realm, embarking on a relationship with Armenians will place them in a
morally uncomfortable and undesirable situation, and that they will be held
responsible for those events. I cannot repeat this often enough: Armenians
are able to distinguish between the perpetrators and today's Turkey. But
Turks themselves must be willing to do what is morally right and reject and
denounce the crimes of the Ottoman Empire. Otherwise, today's denial means
implicit endorsement or acceptance of those past crimes."
Continuing to express his serious concerns over the denial of the Armenian
Genocide by Turkey, Minister Oskanian said: "Justifying, even revering the
genocidal state policy of one regime has become the state policy of another
regime. Denial is state policy, just as genocide is state policy. It is
today's Turkish State that is wasting money and credibility on denying,
distorting, dismissing serious crimes against humanity committed during the
Ottoman years. Not only are they denying history, they are also legislating
denial by making it difficult, if not impossible, to actually dig into this
painful issue and come face to face with difficult historic and political
realities. It is safe to say that Turkish society -- writers, historians,
journalists -- are in fact seeking and trying to reach their own
conclusions about what really happened. It is the state that insists on
rejecting those questions even. The people of Turkey are searching for
answers. The memoir of US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, the British Blue
Book, the works of Vahakn Dadrian and Peter Balakian can be found in
Turkish, in Turkey. We welcome this, because before there can be dialogue
with Armenians, there must be internal questioning and dialogue in Turkey."

The Armenian Foreign Minister concluded with an ominous warning: "The
longer it takes for Turks to repudiate those acts, the more today's Turks
and yesterday's Ottomans will become synonymous in people's minds."
After such strong statements by the President, Prime Minister, Deputy
Parliament Speaker, Foreign Minister, and Deputy Defense Minister of
Armenia, it would be preposterous for any Turkish official to claim that
the Armenian state has no interest in pursuing the Genocide issue. All
Armenians, be they in Armenia or the Diaspora, are united in their resolve
to demand that the Turkish Republic acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and
make appropriate amends.
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2 - Armenian Summer
Games to Start
June 23 in Fresno
FRESNO - Plans for the 36th Annual Armenian Summer Games are moving ahead
at a rapid pace. They will be held June 23-25 at the Buchanan High School
complex in Clovis, Calif.
This year, women's basketball has been added to the existing sports of
men's basketball, tennis, and track and field. Entries are coming in from
all over California for this unique event, organizers said.
Since its debut in 1969, the Armenian Summer Games provides a unique venue
for Armenian athletes of all ages. The only requirement for participation
is that at least one parent is of Armenian descent, or if the applicant is
the spouse of someone of Armenian descent.
Basketball will open on Friday evening, June 23 and continue throughout the
weekend. The track and field competition will take place on Saturday, with
tennis also starting that same morning. Both of these sports will be
contested in age groupings. All participants will receive a souvenir
T-shirt and a complimentary ticket to the traditional post meet picnic.
First, second and third place winners will receive Armenian Summer Games
For applications for all the sports, as well as photos and results from the
last two Summer Games, visit the website at
For additional information, call Van at (559) 298-2372 or Marty at (559)
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3 - UC Berkeley Gala Raises Endowment
For Armenian Studies to $700,000
SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco community "dressed to the nines" to show
their spirit and support for the UC Berkeley Armenian Studies Program at a
Benefit Gala held March 25 at The Olympic Club. With an attendance of over
250 people, the evening raised $250,000, bringing the total raised for the
William Saroyan Endowment since the beginning of the $2 Million Campaign to
"The excitement from this event shows just how committed this community is
to keeping Armenian Studies thriving at Berkeley" states Rachel Nadjarian,
Co-Chair of the Gala. "The Bay Area demonstrated its support by celebrating
what Dr. Astourian has accomplished by establishing such a fine program."
Dr. Stephan Astourian is Executive Director of the Armenian Studies Program
at UC Berkeley and Adjunct Professor in History. Since the Program's
inception, many courses have been added and the depth and breadth of the
coursework, particularly in the Armenian language, has expanded. A year and
a half ago, a fundraising committee was established to support a $2M
Campaign for the William Saroyan Endowment that funds the ASP in order to
help continue the expansion of the Program and sustain its future.
"This is an incredibly viable Program and its continuance and expansion is
critical for the next generation of Armenians," says Adam Kablanian,
Chairman of the Endowment Fundraising Committee. "The success of the Gala
has helped us make a huge leap in the Campaign and garner further support
from our community. We look forward to seeing this continue."
The Benefit Gala was an evening filled with entertainment. TV producer
Andrew Goldberg addressed the audience as guest speaker and presented two
video clips from his upcoming film The Armenian Genocide which aired on PBS
throughout the nation. Goldberg touched upon the ironies of Turkish
genocide denial and showed footage of Raphael Lemkin - the inventor of the
word "genocide" and its legal definition - in a 1949 interview on CBS in
which he refers to the Armenian massacres as rationale for such a concept.
Following Goldberg's presentation, guests were treated to a very
entertaining Live Auction with long-time Bay area resident Ed Vasgerdsian
as auctioneer. Vasgerdsian kept bidding at a fast pace as he fancied people
with such gifts as two weeks in a 3,500 square foot apartment in Yerevan, a
week at a ski lodge in Meribel, France, and an original painting of the
Armenian alphabet by Zarmine Aghazarian of the East Bay. Guests continued
to exude their energy and excitement for the remainder of the evening while
dancing to the music of Arthur Apkarian and Armenian band from Montreal.
No less exciting than the live auction and dancing was the Silent Auction
and Diamond Champagne Raffle that occurred during the cocktail hour.
Outstanding gifts had been donated from the community, including a yellow
diamond ring, a framed print of one of Sumbat Der Kiureghian's paintings,
and a 49ers hat signed by quarterback Steve Young.
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4 - Armenians of Colorado Busy
With Legislative Agenda
BOULDER, CO - The Armenians of Colorado, Inc., announced the passage of the
5th annual Colorado Armenian Genocide Commemorative Resolution last week.
The resolution passed in both chambers unanimously and the roll calls were
added as co-sponsors.
State Senator Lois Tochtrop, co-sponsor of all five resolutions, was very
pleased with the outcome and said, "I hope that the actions at the state
level will encourage or even push the legislators at the Federal level to
finally pass the Congressional resolution."
Armenians of Colorado held its annual Commemorative ceremony at the
Armenian Genocide Memorial plaque at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.
Co-sponsors Senator Tochtrop and Representative Michael Garcia addressed
the crowd as did representatives from Senator Allard and Congressmen
Udall's offices.
Armenians of Colorado also announced a new partnership with the Colorado
Coalition for Genocide Awareness & Action.
The organization will hold its first conference on May 8,at the Adams Mark
Hotel in Denver, Colorado.
The conference will consist of renowned genocide scholars and speakers
with the focus of organizing efforts leading to the cessation and
prevention of genocide. The day will culminate with an "awareness" walk
from the hotel to the Colorado State Capitol where a rally and press
conference will take place. Many of the partners of the coalition are
organizations that Armenians of Colorado Inc has collaborated with in the
past to bring events of genocide awareness.
"This event will take the level of awareness out of the college setting and
bring it to the general public", says Kim Christianian, Chairperson of the
Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee for Armenians of Colorado.
Christianian, who has written Colorado's resolutions and proclamations for
the last five years hopes that through this alliance, the Armenian Genocide
curriculum can be introduced into the Social Studies curriculum at the
middle and high school level.
The Colorado Armenian community, through its coordinated efforts with the
Armenian Assembly, ANCA, and Armenians of Colorado Inc., has made great
progress in gaining support for Armenian issues at the federal level.
Colorado Congressmen Udall and Beauprez have joined the Congressional
Caucus on Armenian Issues as well as signed the House Letter to President
Bush and co-sponsored H. Res. 316. Congresswomen Musgrave and Degette have
also co-sponsored H. Res. 316. Congressman Salazar has signed the letter
to President Bush. Senators Allard and Salazar have both signed the letter
and co-sponsored S. Res. 320.
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5 - Catholicos Karekin II Visits Special-
Care Orphanage in Nor Kharberd
ETCHMIADZIN - On the afternoon of April 9, Catholicos Karekin II visited
the special-care orphanage in the city of Nor Kharberd, in Armenia. The
religious leader brought his Pontifical blessings and fatherly love to the
240 mentally and physically handicapped children residing in the orphanage
who do not have the opportunity to attend church services on a regular
Upon his arrival in Nor Kharberd, the Pontiff was greeted by Minister of
Labor and Social Services Aghvan Vartanian; the Dean of the orphanage,
Haroutiun Balasanian; and the center's staff of the center. The entourage
accompanied Karekin II as he first visited the bedrooms of those children
who could not be moved due to medical reasons. The Catholicos offered a
prayer and gave his blessing to all of the children as he presented each
one with a small cross.
A special program had been prepared by the children of the Armenian Church
Youth Center of Nor Nork, operating under the auspices of the Mother See of
Holy Etchmiadzin and the AGBU. The orphanage dean welcomed the Catholicos
and his accompanying clergymen, stating that their visit and blessings
would help the children withstand their physical ailments and emotional
pain with greater courage.
"We wanted to visit the Nor Kharberd Orphanage because we know that our
dear children living here do not have the opportunity to come and visit our
churches and participate in our services," the Catholicos said. "We came to
bring with us our love for you and our blessings from Holy Etchmiadzin and
to tell you, our boys and girls, that we love you, we are grateful and
proud of you."
The Catholicos also gave a message of appreciation to the dean and the
staff of the center, noting, "We all know that the message of Christ is the
message of love. Love conquers all," the Pontiff said, asking for God to
strengthen the staff and volunteers of the orphanage, granting them
unending love and patience, so that they may transmit the warmth of their
spirits to the children and lighten the burdens placed upon these innocent
At the conclusion of the visit, Catholicos Karekin II offered a service for
blessing children prepared especially for this day. Prior to his
departure, the children of the Nor Nork Youth Center distributed presents
to the children of the Nor Kharberd Orphanage.
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6 - Armenian Plane Crash Kills 113
ADLER, Russia - An Armenian passenger plane crashed in stormy weather May 3
off Russia's Black Sea coast as it was heading for a landing, killing all
113 people on board, most of them Armenians.
The Airbus A-320, which belonged to the Armenian airline Armavia,
disappeared from radar screens about four miles from shore and crashed
after making a turn toward the Adler airport near the southern Russian city
of Sochi, emergency official Viktor Beltsov said.
Officials said all 113 people aboard the plane, including six children,
were killed.
Armenian airline officials said they believed the crash was due to the
weather. Investigators did not believe terrorism was a factor.
The crash occurred early Wednesday during a flight from the Armenian
capital of Yerevan to Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea about 350 miles
The victims' relatives gathered later Wednesday at the Yerevan airport for
a charter flight to Sochi after the crash. Gurgen Seroboyan, whose
23-year-old fiancee Lucenie Gevorkian was a flight attendant on the plane,
wept as he waited.
"We were planning to get married and then this tragedy happened," he said,
choking up.
Samvel Oganesian said his 23-year-old son Vram and his friend Hamlet
Abgarian had been heading to Sochi for vacation. "Why did he go?" Oganesian
asked repeatedly in anguish.
In Sochi's airport, about 100 tearful relatives - nearly all Armenians -
kept up an anguished vigil in a waiting hall. One man became hysterical and
had to be taken away by ambulance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian President Robert Kocharian
declared Friday a day of mourning in both countries, the Kremlin said.
Meanwhile, divers searched storm-churned waters for the victimss remains.
Search and rescue teams had pulled 33 bodies from the water by midmorning,
Kubinov said. None were wearing life jackets, indicating they did not have
sufficient warning to prepare for an emergency landing.
Armavia said 26 Russians, one Ukrainian and one Georgian were among the
passengers. The rest were Armenian citizens.
The plane with 105 passengers and eight crew members disappeared from radar
at about 2:15 a.m. local time, Beltsov said. He said the plane went down
while trying to make a repeat attempt at an emergency landing, but the
Interfax news agency quoted the Russian air control agency as saying that
the plane's crew had not declared any emergency.
Andrei Agadzhanov, Armavia's deputy commercial director, said the crew had
communicated with Sochi ground controllers while the plane was flying over
the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The ground controllers reported stormy
weather but told the crew the plane could still land, he said.
Just before the landing, however, the ground controllers told the plane's
pilots to circle again before approaching the airport. Then the plane
Beltsov said the clouds were as low as 330 feet above the ground at the
time of the crash.
The plane broke up on impact with the water, and wreckage was scattered
over a wide area, Kubinov said. Salvage workers said the fuselage was
recovered at a depth of more than 1,300 feet.
Rough seas, driving rain and low visibility were hampering the search,
Russian news agencies reported. A deep-sea robot was to be used to try to
recover the plane's black box, though Rudolf Teymurazov of the
Intergovernmental Aviation Committee expressed doubt it could be found
since some parts of the plane could be deep underwater.
Agadzhanov said that the airline's deputy general director, Vyacheslav
Yaralov, had been aboard. He said the crew was experienced and that the bad
weather was "certainly" the cause.
The Airbus A-320 was manufactured in 1995 and had been acquired on leasing
by the airline. The aircraft underwent full-scale servicing a year ago.
Two Sochi-bound Russian planes crashed in August 2004, one near the central
city of Tula and the other in the Rostov region, when alleged Chechen
terrorists detonated bombs on board. Ninety people were killed.
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7 - Armenian Consul to Japan Diana Apcar
Remembered Through Book at Prelacy
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles area residents were educated and enlightened
about the power and strength of Armenians all over the world on April 30
through a book found in Japan.
The main attraction of the event was the book, From the Book of One
Thousand Tales: Stories of Armenia and Her People 1892-1922, a collection
of 16 short stories, written by Diana Apcar, Armenia's Honorary Consul
General to Japan during the first Armenian Republic.
Granddaughter Lucille Apcar contacted Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian to
introduce her grandmother's book after she discovered the original
manuscripts in the rubble of her parents' home in Yokohama.
The program went beyond introducing the author and the book to Western
Prelacy friends and supporters. It went beyond commemorating the Armenian
Genocide victims and martyrs. The program distinguished itself from other
events due to its unique content and messages delivered by Raffi Hamparian,
Lucille Apcar and Archbishop Mardirossian.
amparian reminded attendees about the importance of collaboration,
participation and support. He continued by emphasizing the value of time
as he requested individuals to remember Genocide survivors who did not
abandon their culture or heritage after witnessing the burning of churches,
inhumanities to man, and the continuance of struggle to merely survive.
The program included a brief biography of Diana Apcar presented by MC
George Bedigian, comments by Armenian Consul Gagik Giragossian, Dr.
Masahiro Kohara, Acting Consul General of Japan.
The program also included the reading of excerpts from the book, including
"The Sultan's Cat," a short story with a stunning metaphor equating the
well-mannered feline pet with an obsequious Turkish Sultan seeking the
acceptance and respect of his surrounding countries, including the Armenian
Entertainment that evening included musical interludes by Nanor
Jamakordzian, Violin and Hermine Amirian, Vocal, accompanied by Garineh Der
Kevorkian on the piano.
Archbishop Mardirossian closed the program with words of praise, gratitude
and prayer. His remarks celebrated the life of Diana Apcar and the many
lost lives of the Armenian Genocide. He acknowledged the grand efforts of
men and women around the world and their dedication to their faith and the
Armenian nation-women like Apcar, whose knowledge and grasp of Armenia's
history is incredible when one learns that she was born in Burma, lived in
Japan for 43 years and never set foot in any of the countless Armenian
cities and towns of which she wrote about. Thus, this can only attest to a
voracious reading of Armenian history and love of her ethnic heritage.
For a copy of the book, call the Western Prelacy at 818-248-7737
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8 - Mehrabian Named
Recipient of College
Honorary Doctorate
GLENDALE - Glendale businessman Onnik Mhrabian was named the 2006 recipient
of Mashdots College's 'Honorary Doctor of Huma
n Letters" degree, announced College President Dr. Garbis Der Yeghiayan
last week.
As the President and CEO of the KIA Glendale dealership in Glendale,
Mehrabian is also a generous supporter of numerous civic, educational,
religious and cultural organizations in Los Angeles, Glendale, USC
Institute of Armenian Studies, Mashdots College and the Armenian American
Chamber of Commerce, among others.
Mehrabian is also the godfather and benefactor of Glendale's St. Peter
Armenian Apostolic Church and Youth Center. He was recognized by Catholicos
Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, with the St. Gregory the Illuminator Medal of
He has also established a children's center, adjacent to the church, the
Taline Mahrabian Christian Pre-School.
He is married to Armenouhi, and they have two children, Peter and Taline.
"He is an inspiring man of all seasons," Dr. Der Yeghiayan said.
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9 - Chamlian School Wins 7th Annual
Armenian Timeline Quiz Bowl
LOS ANGELES - Thirty-five eight-grade students representing nine major
Armenian day schools in the greater Los Angeles area participated in the
Seventh Annual Armenian History Timeline Quiz Bowl at the Ararat Home of
Los Angeles on April 2.
In a competition lasting over two hours, the students answered a series of
questions on Armenian history and culture. They demonstrated familiarity
with material spanning three millennia and ranging over topics as varied as
history, geography, literature, science, the arts, and religion. The
competition was so spirited and the student preparation was thorough that
the winning team amassed a total of 98 points out of a possible 100, with
the second place team not far behind.
Chamlian School, with students Taniel Akay, Talar Alexanian, Sophia
Keshishian, and Talar Kossakian finished in first place, winning a check
for $1,000 for the school. Second place and a check for $700 went to the
Ferrahian School, represented by Maral Agvinian, Roupen Geudekian, Haig
Karapetian, and Kyle Khandikian. The Sahag-Mesrob School, with Karoline
Davidian, Talar Kakilian, Aren Markarian, and Tanya Moukhtarian, took the
third place award of $500.
The six other participating schools each received a check for $200. They
included the Manoogian-Demirdjian School, with Janet Parseghian, Elda
Boulgorjian, Serli Palatoglu, and Viola Sulahian; the Merdinian School,
with Nerses Aposhian, Movses Avedikian, Thalia Bajakian, and Dikran
Nalbandian; the Mesrobian School, with Mark Aloyan, Nicole Arvanitipoulos,
Maria Bagdasarian, and Liana Kabayan; the Pilibos School with Biayna
Ayvazian, Diana Boyrazian, Satinee Ghulizian, and Silva Serobyan; the
Sisters' Acacemy with Khachik Aladzhyan, Hooree Amerkhanian, Talar
Malakian, and Lauren Tomassian; and the St. Gregory School, with Hagop
Kalaidjian, Tanya Mikaelian, and Sylvia Tomboulian.
All participating students received throphies, certificates, and a gift
from Robert Shamlian, prepared by the volunteers from the Ararat Home Gift
Shop. The cash awards, donated by a number of persons, most of whom
requested to remain anonymous, were designated for the schools' scholarship
The Quiz Bowl was organized and assisted by: Hagop Arshagouni, MC, Marilyn
Arshagouni, Quizmaster, Tamar Boyadjian Avedissian and Arpy Chorbajian,
Judges; Margaret Abrahamian, Sue Abrahamian, Armen Avedissian, Agnes
Boghosian, Lucy Hovsepian, Beatrice Malkasian, Harold Mgrublian, Robert
Tuncer, and John Yaldezian, Proctors; Michael Arshagouni and Ned Rodriguez,
Scorekeepers; Maggie Goschin and Alice Mgrublian, Question Controllers, and
Camelia Boyajian, Timekeeper. Over 250 spectators followed the proceedings
and cheered on the participants.
The competition, organized and conducted by Hagop and Marilyn Arshagouni,
consisted of questions taken from their book "Armenian History Timeline,"
which includes graphics by the late Herach Hovsepian. The Timeline itself,
the only one of its kind in the world, is located on the grounds of the
Ararat Home in Mission Hills.
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