A.G. – It’s Still HOT!

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

In recent years, it has become somewhat fashionable to pooh-pooh, demean, argue against, or perceive conspiracies in efforts to obtain recognition of the Genocide by the United States.

I, too, may have contributed to this mindset to some extent by advocating and promoting greater focus on the need to seek reparations and return of our lands.

People have different reasons for contending that we are “wasting” our energy on recognition efforts. Some argue that passage of resolutions in 1975 and 1984 by the House of Representatives, President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 proclamation, and the 1951 Genocide reference by the U.S. government in a filing with the World Court constitute recognition. Others want more attention and effort directed at supporting the two Armenian republics. Fringe folks concoct, and assert the existence of, improbable conspiracies wherein our advocacy groups “abuse” the Genocide to “make” money, using this ludicrous argument to further their own destructive agenda or vendetta. A few are simply “tired of” all the effort we have put in to achieving recognition.

But at a recent panel discussion held in UCLA’s law school, one of the speakers, Armen Hovannisian, an attorney active in the Armenian Bar Association and ARF made a very illuminating point. When lawsuits involving potential reparations for Genocide era losses have been brought by Armenians to the U.S. courts, in all but a few, early, cases, they have lost. The underlying cause of this is the very fact that we do not have explicit, unambiguous, recognition by the U.S. government.

And, even if the above examples might have been considered that kind of recognition, they have been eclipsed by the fact that subsequent congresses and presidents have not taken a position when presented with the opportunity, thus creating doubt. The courts are latching on to this and avoiding the issue.

The way the courts are doing this is through the use of “preemption” – a legal concept in the U.S. Constitution. Preemption says that foreign policy is the domain of the federal government. Therefore, if the federal government has not said there was an Armenian Genocide, then the courts are not in a position to act as if there was one. That also means that the states may not act as if there was one. That’s why the California law allowing descendants of those who had bought life insurance from various western companies to sue for the payouts was found unconstitutional.

Ergo, if we want to even begin to receive restitution through the courts, the Genocide recognition must remain on our agenda until it is formally received. This does not mean that other issues of concern and importance should not be pursued, especially reparations and lands. Much work needs to be done to prepare the hearts and minds of not only non-Armenian supporters of our issues, but even among ourselves. This does not mean that we should not work on the critically important issues confronting the two Armenian republics, or our Diasporan communities’ needs, or even the massive life-difficulties faced by Armenians still living under Turkish oppression.

It simply means the U.S. Genocide recognition is more timely and necessary than ever; that it is not a passé issue; that it must be a significant part of any agenda of items pursued by our lobbying groups.

I am now profoundly convinced of the importance of securing unambiguous, explicit, recognition by the U.S. government, both executive and legislative branches.

I ask you to consider this matter seriously and at great length. I ask you to unreservedly join hands to achieve this long-delayed goal.

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8 Comments

  1. State of Emergency said:

    If preemption is the argument used by the courts then let them null and void the recognition of the genocide by the 49 US states. If it’s such a strong legal concept then let them put it to the test. Why apply it only when monetary issues are involved. This only tells us that the move by the 49 states is either artful deception or merely unimportant motions. Something not to waste our time and energy on. It’s useless unless justice is applied evenly. Let preemption be the basis for all or for none.

  2. ardachece barseghian said:

    Accept gentlemen the expression of my profound gratitude for persevere to defend our rights and our dignity with your competence and your social, family sacrifices, so thanks to you we will obtain the correct reparation of the genocide committed by the Ottomans and endorses by all the successors who sink their country and citizens in the deshonour. Yes, your fight is also at the service of the Turkish State

  3. Jacque said:

    Very true statement and I like to add one more point as well.
    It’s not only an Armenian issue anymore but an Armenian American issue as well, we Armenian Americans can’t accept our government not to Acknowledge our ancestor’s suffering and crime of Genocide committed against them.
    It’s the same as not admitting to the Native American’s Genocide or the African American slavery or the Japanese concentration camps during WWII.
    Armenians now belong to the ‘We the people’ and we the people of the US demand justice, it’s as much as a domestic issue, as it it is a foreign policy issue.
    We should know that Armenians are part of the American Constitution as well.

  4. Sato Der Sarkissian Zaroubi said:

    One must challenge the us government about the archives and all the letters that they have since1915 whether they are truth or lies. Whether all the photos or tapes are false or lies. Yes or No. maybe we need a team of brilliant lawyers not necessarily Armenians, to fight for our cause so it will go to court. If that is possible. “?.? ?

  5. HAGOP said:

    GAREN YEGPAYRIAN!!!!! YOU CAN BOOK A 1-WAY TICKET TO THE HOMELAND RIGHT NOW IF YOU WANT!!!!! ARMENIA IS FREE AND INEDEPENDENT!!!!!!!!!! CURRENT ARMENIA CANT EVEN GOVERN THE SCRAP OF LAND IT HAS NOW WITHOUT CORRUPTION AND MURDER!!!! MORE LANDS WITH TURKS AND KURDS WILL EQUAL DOOM FOR ARMENIA!!!!!! AND I WILL BE A MILLION DOLLARS THAT IF WE GET OUR LANDS BACK (WHICH WE WON’T), YOU WILL STILL STAY IN BURBANK!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Sato Der Sarkissian Zaroubi said:

    If the us are responsible for the genocide not being recognized, then they have conspired with the Turks and others to drag it on util another hundred years. Now they are using the Genocide word every time for massacres and other war crimes. This should not be accepted. The Genocide word was coined about the time of mass killings and the program of annihilation of the Armenians by starving or hanging the elites or burning and then stealing their assets. Knowing full well they will die in the desert without water and food.

  7. Peter M. said:

    This is the best summary I’ve read on this issue in a long time. I too have heard and read from the peddlers of negativism. It is too bad this column will not put those people to rest.

  8. Aram Hamparian said:

    Let’s say President Eisenhower – in a one-off statement – said nicotine was addictive and cigarettes cause cancer.

    After this recognition – despite unanimous scientific consensus – he and future presidents stubbornly refuse to reaffirm his one-time statement. Despite decades of global and grassroots pressure, including media scrutiny, and both state-level and Congressional activism – these presidents choose to:

    – Use evasive/euphemistic language to avoid speaking honestly about the health of impact smoking.

    – Back billion-dollar tobacco subsidies, and publicly embrace tobacco executives.

    – Block Congressional regulation of the tobacco industry.

    – Actively oppose legislation recognizing cigarettes are harmful.

    In this context, would the Eisenhower statement count as full and final U.S. recognition of the dangers of smoking?

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