Elected Officials Express Dismay at US Apathy on Genocide

Inspire 12,000 community members at Montebello ANC commemorations

MONTEBELLO–Once again–the Armenian-American community of Montebello and surrounding communities observed the anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide with an April 23 rally and vigil candlelight at the foot of the Armenian Martyrs’ Monument–organized by the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of San Gabriel Valley (ANC-SGV). This year’s message was a collective call to political action by the Armenian community. The rally opened with introductory remarks by Tamar Sadorian–who then invited the evening’s master of ceremonies–Serge Samoniantz–to conduct the event.

Special guest speaker Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-34th District) was one of many public officials who expressed dismay at the US government’s failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Napolitano–a staunch supporter of Armenian-American concerns–presented a keen view of the community’s obstacles in having the genocide recognized by the Bush Administration and the backers of the Turkish deniers. She noted that her efforts and those of her colleagues in the Congress would–nevertheless–continue until justice is served to the Armenian people.

Introduced by San Gabriel Valley ANC member Jack Hadjinian–Montebello Mayor Norma Reid-Lopez presented a proclamation from the City of Montebello unanimously declaring April 24 a Day of Remembrances for the Victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Special assistant to Sheriff Lee–Baca Captain Gary A. Nalbandian–representing Baca–presented plaque from the LA County Sheriff’s Department. Nalbandian closed his remarks with a rousing Armenian remark: "Struggle until Victory!"

Speaking on behalf of the youth–Mesrobian Armenian School Associated Students Body officer and Montebello AYF member Angie Achikian–conveyed willingness to take on the torch from the older generation and continue until final success.

Emcee Serge Samoniantz recognized the public officials present–including Montebello City Council members Bob Bagwell–and Bill Molinari–as well as Police Chief Gary Couso-Vasquez–Gil Cedillo Jr.–from Assemblyman Ron Calderon’s (D-58th) office–and Greg Martayan–a former LA City Commissioner–who is running for a Los Angeles City Council seat in the San Fernando Valley. Also attending were ARF Western Region Central Committee chairman Hovig Saliba–ARF Dro Gomideh chairman Sako Sassounian–and Armenian Mesrobian School principal Hilda Saliba.

Before introducing the final speaker–Samoniantz announced the arrival of the Homenetmen Western Region Scouts who had marched from Pasadena–a distance of about eight miles–to pay their respects to the genocide victims–with a candlelight procession.

San Gabriel Valley ANC Chairman Seto Boyajian–delivered the keynote address recounting steps taken by the Armenian community to advance recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the United States. He assailed Pres. Bush’s inability to come to terms with the Armenian Genocide and his unwillingness to properly characterize the 1915 events as Genocide in his annual April 24 statement–emphasizing Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Kohn Kerry’s lengthy and meaningful message calling for the international recognition of the genocide.

The program concluded with the traditional distribution of candles to the audience–the candlelit gathering around the monument plaque–and the solemn Requiem Service conducted by the clergy of the Holy Cross Cathedral.

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