Calif. Assembly Unanimously Approves Genocide Curriculum Bill

Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian speaks on AB 659

SACRAMENTO— Despite heavy opposition by pro-Turkey lobbying groups, the California State Assembly voted unanimously, today, to pass Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian’s bill, AB 659, encouraging schools to use oral histories when teaching about the Armenian Genocide. AB 659 will now move on to State Senate for consideration.

“The unanimous passage of AB 659 sends a strong message that California officials cannot be bought or bullied into denying truth and justice. The ANCA WR commends Assemblymembers Nazarian and Achadjian for spearheading through this important genocide education legislation and looks forward to working with them in garnering similar support in the State Senate,” stated Elen Asatryan, Executive Director of the ANCA-WR.

“AB 659 has enjoyed overwhelming support from my colleagues in the Assembly,” commented Assemblymember Nazarian, following the vote. “I look forward to continuing to work with the ANCA-WR to garner support from our counterparts in the Senate. The personal testimonies of Genocide survivors will give educators a powerful tool to engage students in the subject matter in ways they have never been taught before. If we expect to stop the genocides of the future, it is important that we strengthen the teaching mechanisms on past genocides,” he continued.

Joining Nazarian as co-authors AB 659 were State Senator Mark Wyland (R) and Assemblymembers Katcho Achadjian (R), Steve Fox (D), Mike Gatto (D), Scott Wilk (R), and Cheryl Brown (D). Other members of the State Assembly who spoke in support of the measure during the floor session today were Assemblymembers Tim Donnelly (R) and Diane Harkey (R).

Assemblymember Achadjian, principal co-author on AB 659, worked closely with his Republican colleagues to secure broad bipartisan support for the measure, noted, “I am proud to be a principal co-author of AB 659. Part of ensuring a better world for our children includes educating them about the past. We must take the initiative to recognize such tragic acts of violence in order to prevent such events from happening again. It encourages teachers to educate our students on the Armenian Genocide.”

Earlier this month, AB 659 was unanimously adopted by the State Assembly Education and Appropriations Committees. Education Committee Chairwoman Joan Buchanan explained, “It is important for California students to understand and learn from the lessons of history, including the atrocities of genocide around the world. I am proud to support AB 659, which encourages schools to include the Armenian genocide in our history courses.”

In the weeks leading up to State Assembly consideration of the measure, the ANCA Western Region worked closely with legislators to ensure they learned of the Armenian American community’s enthusiastic support for the measure. “Grassroots efforts are critical for the success of such legislation, particularly in light of the increasingly aggressive lobbying campaigns which are being mounted by Turkey and Azerbaijan. In these times, it is especially important to activate our grassroots, because while we may be outspent by our adversaries, active participation by our community makes a difference,” added Asatryan.

Once adopted by the State Senate and signed into law by the Governor, AB 659 would encourage the incorporation of oral testimony and teacher training, such that the Genocide may be more comprehensively taught in California’s public schools.

The Genocide Education Project (GenEd), a non-profit organization based in San Francisco which has developed model resources for high school teachers regarding the Armenian Genocides, hailed the measure. “With the proper materials and training, teachers can incorporate the Armenian Genocide into their social studies curriculum in a meaningful way,” said Roxanne Makasdjian of The Genocide Education Project. “This resolution reminds education administrators across the state of California’s commitment to the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide as an essential part of its courses on world history, genocide, and human rights.”

The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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3 Comments

  1. Vindicated Man said:

    This is another positive development. And, to the opponents (“opposition by pro-Turkey lobbying groups”), I would say that, no matter what, being honest, to your own self and to others, is the only winning strategy.

  2. DJ Triplett said:

    Years ago, while taking an “Abnormal Psychology” class, a much younger classmate confronted what I knew to be the truth. He said that “his uncle said “none of those murders and killings took place at all” and dismissed me as a stupid child making up nonsense.

    The next class, I brought in my brother’s stack of letters and chose the one I wanted to read out loud. I knew it would be difficult for me, but I also knew that HISTORY was necessary to be set straight. Though my voice cracked and tears fell down my face, I read the letter that Bobby wrote to our mother about receiving a 5 min lesson on a 50 mm machine gun and that he and another soldier stood on the other side of the fence as they both shot and killed 61 Viet Kong who just kept coming and climbing over each other for they were high on heroin and did not have the foresight to stop coming in. In the morning, the dead were counted and my brother and his fellow soldier were awarded the V for Valor. Bob came home with his life, and many metals, but he was not normal ever again, and ultimately Agent Orange took 18 years and 2 kidney transplants to kill him. Another brother went 2 years later.

    S0, I say to Turkey and Azerbaijan that it is time to end the lies, end the circus act they’ve been walking around like clowns for the last 98 years and let the truth finally be told. Let your integrity finally stand, even if the integrity of a small boy learning right from wrong, and fail not in your action, for the world is indeed watching, boys. Simply put, there is too much evidence against you to continue to feign innocence of the vast act of such a public genocide. Let it be known that your ancestors made the terrible mistake and right the wrongs you’ve taught all of your youth over the last 98 years.

    Let the voice of trust, truth and freedom finally ring. As Martin Luther King once said, “and the truth shall set you free.” Be men.

    DJ Triplett, Author.

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