Over 50 Members of Congress Attend ANCA Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide Observance

REP. RADANOVICH ANNOUNCES INTRODUCTION OF RESOLUTION WITH CONGRESSMEN SCHIFF–KNOLLENBERG–PALLONE AND OVER 65 COSPONSORS

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WASHINGTON–DC–Over 50 Members of Congress joined with several hundred Armenian Americans from across the country last night in honoring the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide at the ninth annual ANCA Observance on Capitol Hill–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)

Senators and Representatives–as well as Congressional staff representing over 100 Congressional offices–were greeted by over 350 community members–many of whom travel to Washington–DC annually to attend the Capitol Hill Observance and discuss Armenian American concerns with their elected representatives. The program was held in the historic Cannon Caucus Room.

"We were pleased that so many Armenian Americans from around the nation joined with us at this observance in thanking Members of Congress who are fighting for official US recognition of the Armenian Genocide," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We look forward–in the weeks and months ahead–to working with all of our friends in bringing an end to Turkey’s campaign of denial and making sure that the lessons of the Armenian Genocide–and all past genocides–are used to help prevent future crimes against humanity."

Master of Ceremonies Chris Hekimian opened the evening by inviting His Eminence Oshagan Choloyan to offer the invocation. In addition to Congressional speeches throughout the evening–remarks were offered by His Excellency Arman Kirakossian–Ambassador of Armenia to the US; Vardan Barsegian–Nagorno Karabagh Representative in Washington–DC; ANCA Chairman Kenneth Hachikian; and–Anthony Barsamian Vice-Chairman of the Armenian Assembly. Bishop Vicken Aykazian–Legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America–and Bishop Manuel Batakian representing the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics also participated in the program.

GENOCIDE RESOLUTION INTRODUCED ON APRIL 10

Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA)–the first of over 20 Members of Congress to offer remarks during the course of the evening–spoke forcefully about the need for US recognition of the Armenian Genocide and announced that he would be joining Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) in introducing legislation on April 10th–marking the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the UN Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of Genocide.

The legislation was introduced earlier today with over 65 original cosponsors–including House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)–Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat John Conyers (D-MI)–House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)–and Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA). The resolution will likely be referred to the Judiciary Committee because it deals with changes made to the US Criminal Code to bring the US into full agreement with the terms of the Genocide Convention.

The Genocide Resolution is supported by all the leading Armenian American organizations–including: the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics (New York–NY)–Armenia Fund USA (New York–NY)–Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council (San Francisco–CA)–Armenian Assembly of America (Washington–DC)–Armenian Bar Association (Los Angeles–CA)–Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (Paramus–NJ)–Armenian Evangelical World Council (Paramus–NJ)–Armenian General Benevolent Union (New York–NY)–Armenian Missionary Association of America (Paramus–NJ)–Armenian National Committee of America (Washington–DC)–Armenian Relief Society (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Armenian Youth Federation (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church – East (New York–NY)–Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church – West (Burbank–CA)–Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural Organization (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Homenetmen Armenian General Athletic Union (Watertown–MA; Glendale–CA)–Knights of Vartan (New York–NY)–National Organization of Republican Armenia’s (Washington–DC)–Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – East (New York–NY)–Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church – West (Glendale–CA)–Tekeyan Cultural Association (Watertown–MA)–United Armenia Fund (Glendale–CA).

REPRESENTATIVES DISCUSS SUPPORT FOR CONGRESSIONAL LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUSH

Many speakers at the Observance discussed their support for the Congressional letter being sent this April to President Bush–urging him to properly characterize the 1915-1923 centrally planned and systematically executed slaughter of 1.5 million Armenia’s as "genocide." As of today–over 170 Members of Congress have co-signed the letter. It states–in part–that: "By properly recognizing the atrocities committed in 1915 against the Armenian people as genocide in your April 24th statement this year–you will honor America’s historic leadership and remind the world of the democratic and humanitarian values on which our country is founded. In this period of heightened international conflicts–your message would be most timely."

SENATOR WILLIAM PROXMIRE HONORED WITH ANCA FREEDOM AWARD

The highlight of the Observance was the tribute by the ANCA to former Wisconsin Senator Bill Proxmire–who led a tireless 20-year campaign to attain US adoption of the UN Genocide Convention. Senator Proxmire–noted for his unswerving commitment to human rights–delivered over 3,200 speeches during his Senate career to ensure passage of the measure. Mrs. Ellen Proxmire–who was present to receive the ANCA Freedom Award on her husband’s behalf–offered moving remarks about the Senator’s career and lifelong commitment to preventing genocide. The Senator’s efforts were documented in Samantha Power’s book–"A Problem from Hell: American in the Age of Genocide," which recently won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. The actual legislation implementing the Genocide Convention is known popularly as the Proxmire Act.

Members of Congress offering remarks during the Observance included Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)–and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV)–John Conyers (D-MI)–Joseph Crowley (D-NJ)–Anna Eshoo (D-CA)–Bob Filner (D-CA)–Rush Holt (D-NJ)–Sue Kelly (R-NY)–Dale Kildee (D-MI)–Mark Kirk (R-IL)–James Langevin (D-RI)–James McGovern (D-MA)–George Radanovich (R-CA)–Steve Rothman (D-NJ)–Ed Royce (R-CA)–Brad Sherman (D-CA)–Hilda Solis (D-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–John Tierney (D-MA)–Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH)–Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)–and Diane Watson (D-CA).

Additional coverage of the observance will follow.

Support the adoption of the Genocide Resolution by visiting the ANCA website at www.anca.org and sending a free ANCA WebFax to your Member of Congress.

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