LOS ANGELES—The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA-WR) has confirmed the attendance of three highly-respected international experts on free speech, human rights, and minority rights, Aris Nalci, Baris Allen, and George Aghjayan, at the 2015 ANCA-WR Grassroots Conference. The guest speakers will join hundreds of attendees from around the world to participate in the “Western Armenia and Hidden Armenians” panel, which will take place on October 24at 9 a.m at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. Matthew Karanian, Esq. author of the best-selling English language books Armenia and Karabakh: The Stone Guardian Travel Guide and Historic Armenia: 100 Years Later, will moderate the panel.
With more than 7 million Armenians living outside of Armenia and Artsakh, in addition to the estimated 2 million forcibly Islamized or “Hidden Armenians” living in present-day Eastern Turkey as a result of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, the dynamic panel will engage audiences in identity politics and issues interfering with cultural preservation for Armenians everywhere. There will be a question and answer session at the end of the panel.
Aris Nalci, an author and filmmaker noted for his coverage of Armenian and minority issues, as well as freedom of speech, will join geographical and demographic researcher of Western Armenia (present-day Eastern Turkey), George Aghjayan, and Kurdish human rights activist Baris Alen.
Aris Nalci graduated from Feriköy Merametçian Primary Armenian School, Getronagan Armenian High School in Istanbul and the Yildiz Technical University, where he served on the Mechanical Engineering Faculty. Between 1997 and 2011, Nalci worked as a writer and editor for the Istanbul-Armenian newspaper, Agos. He has also written for the daily newspaper Birgun and Radikal, the weekly newspaper Beyoğlu, and several Armenian and Turkish journals. He is currently a producer and editor at IMC TV in Turkey.
In 2011, Nalci created the first TV show about minorities in Turkey called Gamurç (Bridge), which is still on air. He has also filmed documentaries on Armenian issues, minority rights, and free speech, including Avtobus (2012), 23-and-a-Half (2013), January Nineteen (2013), Grandma’s Receipt (2013), and Turkish Presidents’ Exam with Armenians (2014). In 2014, he co-wrote “1965-50 years after Armenian Genocide, 50 years before 100″ with Serdar Korucu. Nalci also contributes weekly blogs to T24.com.tr.
Baris Alen, born in Diyarbakir, Turkey, studied International Relations at Istanbul Dogus University. He received an M.A. of Global Studies at Lund University in Sweden and launched his professional career in the NGO sector, working for the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey in Ankara and the Federation of Southeast Anatolian Businessman Association in Diyarbakir. More recently, Alen worked for the Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality as the Mayor’s Foreign Relations advisor until the 2014 elections. Since then, he has been working for the International Humanitarian organization on the Syrian border to provide basic hygiene, food, and other essentials to refugees out of official camps.
George Aghjayan graduated from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute with honors in 1988, acquiring his bachelor’s of science degree in Actuarial Mathematics. He achieved his Fellowship in the Society of Actuaries in 1996. After a career in both insurance and structured finance, Aghjayan retired in 2014 to focus his efforts on Armenian related research and projects. His primary area of interest is the demographic and geography of Western Armenia, but he also researches hidden Armenians living there today.
Aghjayan has also written and lectured on a wide array of topics, including Armenian genealogy and genocide denial. He has served on the Central Committee of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Eastern United States and the National Board of the Armenian National Committee of America.
“Our featured panelists provide invaluable insight into the occupied ancestral homeland of Armenians. The panel will serve as a mini-course in issues faced by Armenians and non-Armenians living in modern Western Armenia,” said ANCA-WR Grassroots committee co-chairman Ayk Dikijian, Esq.
The moderator of the panel, Matthew Karanian, Esq. is a second-generation Armenian American lawyer who wrote the first self-published guidebook on Armenia. Karanian served as the Associate Dean of the American University of Armenia’s law program and as the Director of the University’ Legal Research Center. Karanian also founded the Armenian Law Review in 2003 with his students.
Since 1995, Karanian has embarked on journeys to Eastern and Western Armenia, Artsakh, Javakhk, Ani, and Cilicia. His book, “Armenia and Karabakh” is based on over a dozen visits to Armenia. His writings about Armenia have been published in numerous periodicals in the United States and Canada, and his recent book “Historic Armenia: 100 Years Later” is an impressive encyclopedia and pictorial record of the present-day status of Western Armenia, its monuments, churches, villages, and people.
“We are so proud to present this esteemed panel to our community and the hundreds of Grassroots participants who are sure to gain a new and unique knowledge about how past and current events in Turkey directly affect the pursuit of our Cause,” remarked ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq.
The ANCA-WR Grassroots conference will take place on October 23 and 24 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. General admission to the conference is $85 and $50 for students. Visit www.ANCAWRGrassroots.org to register online or to learn about sponsorship and booth display opportunities.
This year’s ANCA-WR Gala Banquet will be one of the largest the organization has hosted. The event, which has become one of the most anticipated events of the calendar year, will be held on Sunday, October 25 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. For information about purchasing tickets, and corporate and tribute message sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.ANCAWRGala.org or call 818.839.1918.
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.