ANCA WR Chapters Praise State Assembly for Genocide Education Bill

AB 2003 Passes California State Assembly by a floor vote of 70-0 and now moves on to the State Senate

SACRAMENTO–The Genocide and Holocaust Education Bill of 2003 (AB2003) was unanimously passed by the California State Assembly on Thursday–May 30 and will next be considered by the State Senate’s Committee on Education.

The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region and its local chapters had publicly pledged their support for AB 2003 at a press conference held at Hollywood High School earlier this year and have continued to work with the authors and supporters of the legislation to ensure its passage.

Assemblymembers Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) and Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) introduced AB2003–a bill that aims to establish a framework in California to ensure that teachers are better prepared to teach the important lessons of crimes against humanity like the Armenian Genocide. Under AB 2003–private organizations will be eligible to receive assistance to raise awareness of these crimes against humanity through the creation of Centers for Excellence.

These Centers–which will operate in conjunction with the California State University–will work with community-based organizations to help coordinate Holocaust and Genocide awareness training and education programs for teachers and students.

"This bill is progressing better than we ever could have imagined–and we are gratified that so many of the state legislators recognize the need for more standardized instruction of the problem of genocide," said Roxanne Makasdjian of the Bay Area Armenian National Committee. "We’ve been working for years to develop strong teaching materials on the Armenian Genocide–and the implementation of this bill will allow the materials to be used on a broad scale across the state," she added.

AB2003 has garnered broad support from a number of community-based organizations that are dedicated to educating the public about crimes against humanity.

Turkish-American groups have unsuccessfully attacked AB2003 and urged its defeat in the California Legislature. Karahan Mete–a representative of the California based Turkish Cultural Organization–explained at a recent press conference held in Sacramento that the bill on the Armenian Genocide is–"an insult to (California) taxpayers–is cheap politics and is unethical." He went on to remark that the legislation on the Armenian Genocide is–"an attempt to brainwash (American) children with a politically motivated and very disputed subject–the so-called Armenian Genocide." In response to a question as to why the State Legislature was considering AB2003–Mete is on the record stating that–"some charismatic ethnic groups (Armenia’s and Jews) are carrying their social diseases from overseas into the United States–we should not feed their paranoia."

"Assemblyman Koretz is excited about the overwhelming support for the bill from his colleagues," commented Scott Svonkin–Chief of Staff for Assemblymember Paul Koretz. "He believes that despite the difficult economic environment we are in–with the help of the Armenian National Committee and the other coalition groups–we will see this bill to the governor’s desk. The Turkish opposition and any opposition to this bill just strengthens the Assemblyman’s resolve that this bill is needed and now is the right time to stand up to revisionist historians," Svonkin added.

Statemen’s of denial such as those expressed by Mr. Mete have been ignored by the media and by lawmakers–who feel that the bill is very significant to understanding the roots of hatred and intolerance.

The Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots political organization. The ANCA actively advances a broad range of issues of concern to the Armenian-American community.

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