YEREVAN—The Armenian National Committee of America’s Chairman Ken Hachikian, who traveled to Yerevan last week for high level consultations with officials of the U.S., Armenian, and Nagorno Karabakh governments, was interviewed on Monday, September 23rd, by the Armenpress news agency. Hachikian discussed the ANCA’s current activities and its plans for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
ARMENPRESS: Mr. Hachikian, what plans are being undertaken in the U.S. in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide?
KEN HACHIKIAN: Our attention will be focused on using the 100th anniversary to increase awareness about the Armenian Genocide in the non-Armenian population. Regardless of whether it’s the 90th, 95th, or 100th anniversary, we won’t stop in our struggle for justice. Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity for us to focus our attention on the issue of awareness. We are planning a number of political, educational, and cultural programs.
AP: Could you tell us more about those programs?
KH: We are still in the planning stages, but we are putting a lot of emphasis on educational programs, which will be most useful in raising awareness about the Genocide. We are working toward events at schools and universities; there’s a possibility of a series of exhibitions at museums, which will tell the story of the Armenian Genocide. And, of course, a number of political initiatives, which we hope will bring us closer to our goals.
AP: As you may know, schoolchildren in France are taught about the Armenian Genocide as part of their school curriculum. Is the same true for the United States?
KH: In the United States, all 50 states have different standards, different school curriculums, and use different sets of textbooks. With that said, a number of individual states have passed legislation that makes it mandatory for history classes to cover the Armenian Genocide. And we are continuously working to bring similar legislation to other states. At the moment, 43 of the 50 states have recognized the Armenian Genocide.
AP: What is the American public’s perception regarding the issue of the Armenian Genocide? Is the public sufficiently aware of the issue?
KH: When we have the opportunity to teach about the Armenian Genocide, the response from the public is always positive. And, of course, it is one of our goals to have more opportunities to discuss the Armenian Genocide with the public. That’s why for the 100th anniversary we are focusing our efforts toward garnering public attention for the Genocide.
AP: How many supporters does the current Armenian Genocide bill have in the House of Representatives and in the Senate?
KH: In the House of Representatives, we have majority support. In the Senate we will face some problems because of the fact that there are two senators from every state, whereas in the House the number of representatives from each state depends on the state’s population. There are states with substantial Armenian populations, like California, Massachusetts, etc., but alongside those states are ones with very little to no Armenian inhabitants, like South Dakota, where no Armenians live. In the Senate, both California and South Dakota have two senators and equal voice. This doesn’t make passing a bill in the Senate impossible for us, but it does make it significantly more difficult.