LOS ANGELES—Leaders of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) met with Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-37) on Nov. 24 to discuss a wide array of human rights issues pending before the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congresswoman Bass, who was first elected to California’s newly drawn 37th Congressional District in November of 2012, is an active member of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Congresswoman, who was chosen by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus, also plays a leadership role in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), where she served as Whip for the 113th Congress.
“We are glad to count Congresswoman Karen Bass as a strong friend of the Armenian American community and the causes we hold close to our hearts,” remarked ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian after a delegation of ANCA-WR leaders and Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian met with the Congresswoman at her District Office in Los Angeles. “The Congresswoman is a champion for human and civil rights. She is clearly an individual who understands and appreciates the concerns of her Armenian American constituents, whether they are related to the Armenian Genocide, freedom for the people of Artsakh or expanding the ANCA’s tradition of grassroots activism.” Hovsepian added. Councilman Krekorian, a longtime friend of the ANCA-WR, developed a strong friendship with Congresswoman Bass during their shared service in the California State Assembly, where Bass served as the 67th Speaker of the State Assembly.
During the hour long meeting with Congresswoman Bass, a number of human rights issues were raised, including the effort in the 113th Congress to adopt, into law, H.R. 4347 – the Return of Churches bill. This legislation, among other provisions, calls on the Republic of Turkey to return stolen Christian church properties. Among the other issues addressed during the meeting was the ANCA’s eagerness to work with Congresswoman Bass and her professional staff on the “America We Thank You,” ANCA-WR initiative, which highlights the role of and pays tribute to Near East Relief (NER) during the Armenian Genocide in saving over 132,000 Armenian orphans and a million refugees. It was brought to the Congresswoman’s attention that many of her own Armenian American constituents owe their very existence to the NER, which saved their parents and grandparents from certain death during the period during and after the Armenian Genocide. Finally, the ANCA-WR’s Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan provided Congresswoman Bass with a thoughtful overview of the organization’s work on a number of grassroots initiatives, including the ANCA-WR’s HyeVotes effort, which continues to register thousands of new Armenian American voters in the coming year.