ANCA-WR ‘Deeply Troubled’ with Newsom for Denying Hampig Sassounian Parole

Hampig-Sassounian-1a
Hampig Sassounian

Hampig Sassounian

The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region issued a statement Friday expressing its concerns about the decision last week by California Governor Gavin Newsom to deny parole to Hampig Sassounian.

Below is the text of the statement.

The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, the largest grassroots advocacy organization representing the interests of more than one million Armenian-Americans in California, expressed its grave concerns in a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom regarding his recent reversal of the decision of the Parole Board to release Hampig Harry Sassounian from prison after serving 38 years.

We are deeply troubled with Governor Newsom’s decision on numerous fronts. Chief among them is the Governor’s long-standing and deep understanding of the Armenian Genocide and his familiarity with the consequences it has had on generations of survivors, as the Governor himself acknowledges in his ruling. In addition, it is clear from the myriad of letters sent to the Governor by community and religious leaders as well as many elected officials who unequivocally support the release of Mr. Sassounian, that our community stands united in its call for a just decision on humanitarian grounds. Moreover, not one but two Parole Boards have unanimously decided that Mr. Sassounian is more than sufficiently rehabilitated after serving his entire adult life from the young age of 19 and that after 38 years, parole would be justified. Yet in the face of all these overwhelming calls for Hampig Sassounian’s immediate release, it appears that the Governor has made a decision which is inconsistent with his own record and public stance on judicial and prison reform, human rights, and criminal justice, causing confusion, profound disappointment and deep frustration within our community.

We are also very concerned that our State’s criminal justice system is being held hostage by foreign influence and threats from the Turkish government not only through the highest levels of the Trump Administration but even directly aimed at the Governor himself. None of these outside influences should have a voice in determining the fair administration of justice in this case.  American civil liberties should never be encroached upon by any foreign entity, and the Governor has been entrusted by the citizens of California to protect those rights and liberties. Sadly, it appears that he may have succumbed to outside pressure without any justification whatsoever and after taking such bold stances against similar pressures in other instances.

Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region

Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region

During these extraordinarily challenging times of the pandemic and civil unrest in which equal justice for all is the common mantra sought by all segments of society, Governor Newsom has a heightened duty to grant humanitarian relief to prisoners who have served their time and have demonstrated reform and rehabilitation. As the Governor’s written decision states, “I am required to ‘give great weight to the diminished culpability of youth as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity of the prisoner’ when determining a youthful offender’s suitability for parole. … The question I must answer is whether Mr. Sassounian will pose a current danger to the public if released from prison.” Yet in the case of Mr. Sassounian, who at the age of 57 fully intends upon his release to immediately relocate to Armenia and thus will not be a current danger to the public or a further financial burden to our State if released, the Governor opted to proactively and affirmatively reverse a well-reasoned and fully investigated decision of his own Parole Board and the Board preceding it, both of which came to identical decisions after doing their own due diligence. Mr. Sassounian has served more than an average life sentence given his status as a youthful offender, and no one can credibly argue that justice has not been served for the crime of which he was convicted. He has fully rehabilitated himself and shown every indication that he is capable and ready to lead a peaceful life in the Republic of Armenia.

On behalf of our organization and the Armenian-American community whose interests it represents, we call for action, accountability, and a just and humanitarian result in the most expedient manner possible. Given the fact that Governor Newsom will have another opportunity next year to grant parole to Hampig Sassounian, the universal calls for social justice and equal treatment under the law, amplified even more during these challenging times, deserve no less.

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10 Comments

  1. Samuel Darbinian said:

    Recently we witnesssed the impeachment process of U.S. president, activated by Democrat party claming in violatin of U.S.constition for pushing Ukrainian government to investigate the records of Mr Haunter Bidens.More over Democrat party members complaining that Russian hackers involvement on presidential election in favor president. In CA. the governor is influenced with the turkish wish & interest against his own fellow U.S citizen . denying parol plea for Mr Hambik Sassounian. In violation of his consttional right, human values &manipulation of\U.S. justice system & abusing the power on behalf of turkish Barbarians & this stain can be taken away by impeacing current gavernor by both magor parties.As an Armenian community must learn our lesson for incming general election all together vote only for one person { do not spoil votes by spreadiingit} who undestands the problems & cares for his fellow citizens

  2. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    The American INJUSTICE has engaged in a political vindictiveness of Turkey via President Trump who has cede for reasons both murky and clear in terms of his personal interests. I persist in saying that this was not a crime of blood but an irrepressible action of political revenge against the representative of this state who has planktoned and sacrificed his family and all the people in conditions of absolute inhumanity. We, the herities of what the world admits as a Genocide we keep this ultimate violence committed against a loyal, laborious people, without defense other than his faith, as an indelebile psychic trace and HAMPIG did not resist as TEHLERIAN acquits by the German Court, allies of Turkey. All the psychology experts of the world will tell you that a person who has received in heritage this type of violence is even to be freed by this act of reparation and political easing. We are ALL, children of these Armenian rescues of the Genocide, of the HAMPIG SASSOUNIAN, until recognition and reparation by this autocratic turkey that expresses itself only by violence and against its own people including its minorities. 38 years for an INNOCENT is very expensive pay and we will not forget. I dream, like “Cain’s eye in his grave” of the statue of HAMPIG facing the U.S. Embassy in EREVAN.

  3. GARO YEGHICHIAN said:

    Governer Gavin Newsom to deny parole of hampic sassounian will be subject for serious justificatiom.

  4. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    for the majority, if not the totality of the Armenians by the World as for any intellectual who adheres to international justice, Hampig Sassounian will enter the history with a great H against a blatant example of a politicized justice at the command. This MAN, again, with a big H should have been released immediately for eliminating the voluntary representative of a fascist state whose practices we see regulire

  5. Armen said:

    What is Armenia doing about Hampig’s wrongful incarceration? Nothing?

  6. Ricky tames said:

    We need to remove politics from criminal justice. PERIOD. The parole board has too much power to deny people a second chance based on SUBJECTIVE REASONS and the governor has too much power to deny based on POLITICAL REASONS. It has become ludacris.

  7. Raffi said:

    Somebody should take the lead and start gethering signature country wide to press the president, on CHANGE.com people have done for similar cases and have received positive results, even if Armenians don’t come to release Hampig, it’s a good way to spread and educate people coutrywide what happened during and after the Genocide.

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