CHARLESTON—West Virginia became the 44th state to recognize the Armenian Genocide with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s proclamation declaring April 2016 as “Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month” in the Mountain State, reported the Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA-ER).
Citing the murder over 1.5 million Armenians and one million Greeks and Assyrians from 1915-1923, and the ongoing genocide against Christians, Yezidis and other minorities in the Middle East, Governor Tomblin’s proclamation notes that “recognizing and consistently remembering the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, and all cases of past and ongoing genocide, we help protect historic memory, ensure that similar atrocities do not occur again, and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution and tyranny.”
Local ANCA advocates Hamparsum Kasparyan, Nancy J. Tolliver and Amy N Tolliver played an integral role in working with state officials in support of the proclamation. “In 1915, my grandfather, Hamparsum, a prosperous wheat broker in Ankara, Turkey, was pulled from his home in the middle of the night, and beheaded. The same happened to many of the more educated and prosperous Armenians in Turkey at the time,” explained Kasparyan. “My grandfather was a kind and very generous man. During a drought he opened his silos and fed 40 towns of people. I am hoping that this West Virginia proclamation recognizing the Armenian Genocide, will in some way assure that others do not go through the same horrible events.”
ANCA Eastern Region Chairman Stephen Mesrobian welcomed the proclamation, noting, “We applaud the Mountain State for officially memorializing the Armenian Genocide, thereby becoming the 44th state in the Union to do so. This sends a strong signal to the international community and the Obama Administration that we cannot – and must not – kowtow to Turkey’s genocide denial campaign.”